Halitosis, also known as chronic bad breath, is an embarrassing problem to have. Pinpointing the source of bad breath can be a daunting task, because halitosis can be caused by a number of problems. This can make identifying and treating the problem difficult because there’s no one-size-fits-all remedy for bad breath. However, most cases of halitosis can be addressed using the strategies below.
1. Prevent Dry Mouth
Having a dry mouth increases your risk of developing bad breath. A common cause of dry mouth is breathing through your mouth rather than your nose, often due to nasal congestion. Using alcohol-based mouthwash, certain medications, or simply not drinking enough water are other common causes of dry mouth. This results in a lack of saliva, which is required to sweep away bacteria and food particles that accumulate inside of your mouth throughout the day.
To eradicate dry mouth, try carrying a bottle of water with you to sip on during the day. Use an alcohol-free mouthwash and/or consult an ENT doctor to address any chronic allergies or other issues that may be preventing you from properly breathing through your nose.
2. Floss, Floss, Floss
Brushing and flossing at least twice per day is very important. Particles of food and bacteria accumulate in those spaces between the teeth. If not removed, they can cause a foul odor, gum irritation, and eventually, tooth decay.
3. Avoid Bad-Breath-Causing Foods
Garlic, onions, coffee, and hummus are delicious but unfortunately, the biochemicals that make up their rich flavors also cause bad breath. You don’t have to give them up entirely, but it might be a good idea to abstain on the day of an important business meeting!
4. Quit Smoking Tobacco
By now, everyone knows how bad tobacco is for our bodies. Smoking cigarettes causes periodontal (gum) disease, which leads to halitosis. But even if our gum tissue is still healthy, the hallmark smoker’s breath is present. Quitting tobacco will improve your overall health and you’ll have better breath.
5. Brush Your Tongue (or Try a Tongue Scraper)
Did you know brushing your tongue should be a part of your daily oral hygiene regimen? It’s easy to do; simply use your toothbrush to gently scrub the top and sides of your tongue once per day. Using a tongue scraper is another great option. The goal is to prevent a white film of bacteria from forming on your tongue, which in turn will help to reduce bad breath.
6. Don't Skip Your Dental Visits
Gum disease and tooth decay are major causes of halitosis. When a patient has periodontal disease, bacteria invade and colonize the pockets of tissue between gum tissue and teeth. This bacteria is difficult to brush away and it emits an odor. Another point to consider: Regular dental cleanings and oral evaluations aren’t just for keeping your smile bright and your breath fresh. They can have a significant impact on your general health. Poor oral hygiene has been linked to serious health conditions, including jaw bone loss and cardiovascular disease.
7. See Your Doctor
If simple self-care techniques don't solve the problem, see your physician to be sure a more serious condition isn't causing your bad breath. Your primary care provider can refer you to an ENT if needed. Several health conditions, such as allergies, sinusitis, chronic reflux of stomach acids, metabolic disorders, and even cancer can cause bad breath.