Bad breath or halitosis is a common problem we face in our daily life. We experience it when we wake up in the morning and when we consume certain foods during the day. Other causes of this embarrassing problem include smoking and alcohol intake. The good thing is that in most cases bad breath is transient and manageable, usually waning after brushing, flossing or using mouthwash. These practices are actually common sense however we tend to overlook them.
Chronic halitosis on the other hand, is not easily treated with regular oral cleansing and is probably a symptom of another medical problem. It would be best to go seek medical help rather than self-diagnose this type of bad breath to make sure that your health is not in danger. Below are just some of the ways you can avoid having bad breath:
Know the Possible Causes:
- Bad Oral Hygiene – Neglecting proper oral hygiene is the most common reason why we experience bad breath. Brushing and flossing get rid of tiny bits of food stuck in our between our teeth after every meal. If we do not routinely clean our teeth, our mouth becomes breeding ground for bacteria. Food particles begin to decompose in the teeth and tongue and this gives off that nasty breath smell once you exhale.
- Food Intake – Spices such as onion and garlic are another source of bad breath. They are readily absorbed in the blood streamand when it reaches the lungs, the air expelled contains the scent of the spices. Minimize consuming these spices if you want to avoid bad breath. Another source of bad breath are the gases our stomach releases during the digestion process. You will notice that when you burp, you can actually smell traces of the food that we recently consumed and the odor may vary in intensity.
- Smoking – Cigarettes do not just cause lung cancer, it is also a well-known source of bad breath. A stick of cigarette contains thousands chemicals, some of which are considered toxic. Once smoke is inhaled, chemical particles stick to the mouth and air passages so every time you exhale, the breath carries with it the scent of all those chemicals. Quit smoking and you will avoid bad breath.
- Other Medical problems – liver diseases, diabetic ketoacidoses, kidney failure and sinusitis are non-oral medical problem that has bad breath as symptoms. This may be due to the chemical imbalance that the body undergoes when affected by these diseases.
Seek Out Accurate Diagnosis:
- Self-diagnosis– Self-examination for bad breath is difficult because our nose and mouth acclimate to our own body odors. It is best to ask other people’s honest opinions for evaluation. Lightly scraping the back of your tongue with a plastic spoon andsmelling the residue can also be a rough indicator of bad breath.
- Testing Devices – The Halimeter is a portable device used to determine the level of sulfur-producing bacteria in the body. The more bacteria there are in the mouth, the more sulfides are emitted and this gas is a potential cause of bad breath. The Halimeter however is only effective if recalibrated on a regular basis as it cannot specifically separate the sulfide from bacteria to the ones emitted by spices and the readings are sensitive to alcohol levels in the mouth. Another device, gas chromatography gives a more accurate evaluation of bad breath.
Follow the Prescribed Treatment and Preventive Measures:
- Make oral hygiene a priority – To avoid bad breath, brush your teeth every after meal and use a tongue scraper to eliminate bacteria that cling to the front and back follicles of the tongue. Flossing also helps in the removal of decaying food in between teeth and for those who have dentures, clean and soak them regularly. This ensures that there is zero to minimal buildup of bacteria in the mouth.
- Use Mouthwash– Gargling with mouthwash is convenient and effective way to avoid bad breath. Most commercial mouthwash products contain antibacterial agents and alcohol that eliminates odor and temporarily stunts the growth of bacteria.
- Chew gum– We usually miss brushing our teeth during our office or school lunch breaks. An effective substitute to flossing and brushing is chewing gum. Chewing helps us avoid bad breath because it stimulates the production of saliva that kills bacteria in the mouth. Saliva also prevents dry-mouth, another leading cause of bad breath. If you do not prefer chewing gum, you may chew on fennel seeds, cinnamon sticks or fresh parsley.
- Visit your dentist regularly – Make it a habit to make an appointment with your dentist every six months. Dental exams can help pinpoint gum problems that maybe a source of bad breath. Dentists also have more powerful tools and mouthwashes that can flush out plaque and tartar.