Unlike what you might think, bad breath isn’t always due to poor oral hygiene. Over 50 percent of adults have suffered from persistent bad breath, known as halitosis, at some point in their lives — and it’s not because over 50 percent of people don’t brush their teeth! Dr. Christopher Banks is a dentist in Chevy Chase, MD who helps patients stop halitosis.
What Causes Bad Breath?
There are a number of reasons you might have bad breath. While most of the causes are harmless, some can indicate something more serious.
Our mouths are naturally full of bacteria, most of which are harmless. These bacteria love living in our mouths because of the warmth and moisture, and they feed on leftover food particles. This process leaves behind a foul-smelling waste product that causes bad breath.
A constant bad taste in your mouth or bad breath that won’t go away even after brushing can be an indicator of gum disease, caused by oral bacteria that remain on the teeth and gums and cause an infection.
One of the causes of bad breath is often a dry mouth, caused by the mouth not making enough saliva. Saliva is important because it washes out your mouth, removing leftover food particles and bacteria from the teeth. Dry mouth can start as a result of certain medications, breathing through your mouth, dehydration, or even untreated salivary gland issues. Your first line of defense against a dry mouth is by staying properly hydrated.
Other medical conditions unrelated to the mouth can cause bad breath. If your dentist has ruled out other dental or oral health problems and you have excellent oral hygiene, your halitosis could be the result of another problem elsewhere in the body. Conditions like sinus infections, acid reflux, liver or kidney disease, or diabetes can cause halitosis, and you might want to make an appointment to see your primary health provider.
How Can I Prevent Bad Breath?
Take Care of Your Tongue
Don’t forget to clean your tongue when you’re brushing your teeth. If you stick out your tongue and look at the very back, you’ll see a white or brown coating. That’s the area where most of bacteria that cause bad breath can be found. Use your toothbrush or a tongue scraper to clean them off your tongue.
Brush and Floss
Good oral hygiene is your first line of defense against bad breath. Brush twice a day and floss at least once a day to get rid of bad breath-causing bacteria.
Keep Saliva In Your Mouth
Eat healthy foods that require a lot of chewing, like carrots or apples and stay hydrated to keep plenty of saliva in your mouth. You can chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candies. Your dentist may also recommend artificial saliva if these quick fixes do not help.
While mouthwash can kill some bacteria or mask the odor, it is only a temporary solution. Make sure you’re using mouthwash as a supplement to brushing and flossing, as it cannot replace physically removing bacteria from the teeth.
Schedule Regular Appointments With Your Dentist
If you’re in the Chevy Chase MD area and you’re concerned about what might be causing your bad breath, schedule an appointment to see Dr. Banks. Regular check-ups will help Dr. Banks to spot any impending problems such as gum disease or dry mouth and stop them before they become more serious. If your your mouth is healthy, you may be referred to your primary care doctor. To schedule a consultation, call 202.769.0324 or make an appointment online.