How to Get Rid of Bad Breath
Bad breath and the symptoms that cause it can affect anyone at any age. It can be embarrassing and awkward when someone tells you your breath stinks! You may even become self-conscious about the problem and start to avoid being around people just to not worry about them smelling your breath. Before you go to this extreme, it is better to try to figure out what is causing your bad breath and take steps to treat it.
Causes for Bad Breath
There are many different causes for bad breath. You should review each one to see if this could be the reason for yours.
If you smoke cigarettes, e-cigs, or cigars, or use chewing tobacco, it can make your breath smell. Aside from bad breath, tobacco products can cause other oral hygiene problems, like stained teeth and irritated gums. Not to mention, tobacco products can further aggravate conditions like gum disease and periodontal disease.
The saliva in our mouths starts to break down food particles after we eat. If there is food trapped in between the teeth and along the gum line, it can release a foul-smelling gas which gives us bad breath.
The same is true with certain foods that already have an odor, like garlic and onions. Not only do they make our breath smell after eating them, that smell does not entirely go away until after the food has been fully digested. During the digestion process, part of what makes these foods smell is carried throughout the bloodstream, including through the lungs, where the smell can be released into our breath.
Coffee and other caffeinated beverages are considered diuretics. This means they deplete the body of water and can cause dry mouth. When the mouth is not properly hydrated, it can cause bad breath because there is insufficient moisture to wash away food particles and dead skin cells.
Gum Disease/Periodontal Disease
Plaque contains bacteria, which release toxins and can make our breath smell bad. If you have either of these conditions, problems with bad breath are further increased because the plaque gets trapped in between the gum line and the base of the teeth, where you cannot reach it.
Poor Brushing Habits
If you do not brush your teeth at least two minutes twice a day, plaque can be left on the surface. As already mentioned, plaque releases toxins that contribute to bad breath.
Poor Flossing Habits
If you do not floss at least once a day, food particles are left trapped in between the teeth. The saliva in our mouth continues to digest these particles. In addition, plaque forms and releases bad-breath-causing toxins.
Poor Dental Appliance Cleaning
If you have braces or an Invisalign device, it is important to clean these dental appliances correctly. With braces, you need to remove food particles with proper brushing technique to prevent bad breath.
With Invisalign, one of the biggest mistakes people make is not brushing their teeth and flossing before putting their aligners back in. This will trap food particles and not only make your breath smell but also make the aligners smell, too.
The bacteria that causes tooth decay and cavities can be a cause for bad breath. Essentially, the bacteria is destroying the tooth, and it is naturally decaying. During this process, strange and bad odors can be released into the mouth.
Some medications and medical conditions can cause bad breath as a side effect. If you recently started a new medication or were diagnosed with a medical condition and noticed your breath started to smell, this could be the cause.
Post Tooth-Removal Infections
If you need to get your wisdom teeth extracted or other teeth removed as part of your orthodontic treatment plan, there is a small probability of an infection. If an infection develops, it can cause bad breath. However, we take every precaution, like prescribing antibiotics to avoid this problem.
Diagnosing Bad Breath
The first thing you will want to do is review your own personal habits, both the good and the bad. It can be beneficial to start a journal to narrow down potential issues that may be causing your bad breath.
Your journal should include entries for the following:
- How many times and when you brush and floss your teeth.
- The types of food you eat.
- The types of beverages you drank.
- Any medications you take.
- Any medical conditions you have.
- How much alcohol you drink.
- How often you use tobacco products or e-cigs.
- When you notice your bad breath starts and how long it lasts.
For instance, if you like eating spicy foods that have garlic and onions every day at lunch, you may notice your bad breath starts to occur in the late afternoon and lasts through the evening. To determine if this is the cause of your bad breath, you should go a few days without these types of foods to see if this is really the cause.
After recording journal entries for about a week or so, if you cannot determine what is causing your bad breath, then it is time to get professional help from your orthodontist. It is helpful to share your journal entries so your orthodontic care professional can use this information to make a more accurate diagnosis.
Treating Bad Breath
When you want to get rid of bad breath, it can mean major changes to your personal habits. Change does take time, and it is best to implement a few changes at a time and introduce one or two additional changes every two to three weeks. This way, you are more likely to adjust easier to your new habits and not fall back and continue the bad ones that caused your bad breath.
- Drink plenty of water. Cut down on coffee and caffeinated drinks, including those sugary energy drinks and sodas. Water helps keep the mouth hydrated and also washes away bad-breath-causing bacteria.
- Reduce the amount of alcohol you consume. If you drink beer, wine, or other alcoholic beverages, it can cause dry mouth and bad breath.
- Stop using tobacco products. It can be difficult to stop smoking or using tobacco products. However, if you can try to cut down or stop completely, it will give you better breath.
- Cut back on bad-breath-causing foods. Even if they are your favorite foods to eat, cutting them down to one or two times a week will immensely improve your breath.
- Follow your orthodontic treatment plan. Your orthodontist will prescribe a treatment plan which outlines when you should brush and floss your teeth, whether you have braces or Invisalign. They will also instruct you on how to clean aligners, retainers, and other removable dental appliances.
TIP: Chewing gum and using breath mints are not effective methods of treating bad breath. These products only mask the smell. Furthermore, many contain sugars that will promote tooth decay and cavities.
In some cases, like if you are diagnosed with chronic bad breath, there are other viable treatments you can use to manage the problem, in addition to changing your personal habits. These could involve using orthodontic prescribed toothbrushes, toothpastes, and mouth rinses.
Here at Labbe Family Orthodontics, we treat our patients like family, so you do not have to be embarrassed or feel awkward about discussing your concerns about bad breath. We are here to help you find an effective way to prevent and reduce the occurrence of bad breath.
In addition, our orthodontic services can give you the smile you desire from a family-friendly orthodontist. Please feel free to contact Labbe Family Orthodontics at (443) 603-3448 to schedule your complimentary consultation appointment today! We look forward to helping you design a beautiful, healthy smile in a fun and enthusiastic environment.
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