There are few things worse during a first date or job interview than realizing too late that your terrible breath may have spoiled the first impression. No matter how many other things go smoothly, it generally won’t work out if the date or potential employer has a nose full of unpleasant odors. So how can we avoid having terrible breath during such important moments? What exactly causes bad breath?
The Simple Answer: Oral Hygiene
The chemical breakdown of food remnants lodged between our teeth is the most frequent cause of foul breath. These particles are consumed by oral bacteria, which then emit very pungent substances like hydrogen sulfide (which smells like rotten eggs) and make our breath foul. Fortunately, the remedy is also straightforward: brush your teeth twice a day, floss every day, use a tongue scraper to remove additional bacteria from your tongue, and, if necessary, chew sugar-free gum after lunch.
Sometimes Halitosis Is More Complicated
Unfortunately, not everyone who struggles with bad breath can solve it with a good daily oral hygiene routine alone. Plenty of other things can cause halitosis.
- Mouth-breathing dries out the mouth, which means there isn’t enough saliva to wash away food particles and neutralize acids, so it’s much easier to get smelly.
- Medications commonly cause dry mouth as a side effect, which leads to the same problems as with mouth-breathing.
- Chronic health conditions (even ones without an obvious connection to breath freshness), such as acid reflux, liver or kidney disease, and diabetes.
- Having a cold or sinus infection can mean a lot of smelly mucous that affects the way breath smells.
- Pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness and nausea can affect breath because they increase the amount of acid in the mouth. People struggling with bulimia may have a similar problem.
- Using tobacco products in any form will leave foul-smelling compounds in the mouth as well as drying it out. It also raises the risk of developing gum disease or oral cancer.
- Untreated tooth decay or gum disease tends to go hand-in-hand with halitosis. That’s because the same bacteria that causes bad breath also causes cavities and periodontitis!
Managing and Combating Halitosis
When brushing, flossing, and tongue scraping don’t keep your breath minty fresh, it’s important to identify the root of the problem so that you can treat it rather than just treating the symptom. We advise mouth breathers to practice breathing more through their noses. Anyone who smokes or chews tobacco is urged to stop. If your issue is dry mouth, chewing sugar-free gum encourages the production of saliva. You may also keep your mouth moist by drinking water and using a humidifier.
Call in the Professionals!
If you have any concerns about stubborn bad breath, the dentist is a great ally to turn to. The dentist can help you discover what’s causing the bad breath and recommend the best solutions, so make sure to bring all of your questions to your next dental exam!