Most all of us have had Bad Breath, also called Halitosis, at one time or another. While there may be different causes of bad breath, studies have shown that 85-90% of the causes originate in the mouth. This is because our mouths are full of bacteria and these bacteria feed on bits of food or shedding tissues from our cheeks, gums, and tongue. When these bacteria feed, they produce sulfur gases that smell…smell bad.
Causes of Bad Breath
Dry Mouth or Reduced Flow of Saliva: The bacteria that cause bad breath are Anaerobic which means they thrive in airless conditions. Saliva has oxygen in it so if there is more saliva…there is more oxygen…and more oxygen means LESS BACTERIA…less bacteria means less smelly sulfur gases produced…which means less BAD BREATH. Saliva also helps by reducing tissues in the mouth from shedding and helps reduce the amount of food that stick to teeth. Both these reductions give the bacteria less to eat and therefore helps prevent bad breath. Saliva also aids in preventing these bacteria from sticking to teeth and on your tongue which helps lower the number of bacteria too.
Why do we get morning? For most of us, it is because we haven’t cleaned our mouth since the night before and when we sleep we breathe through our mouth and that dries out our mouth…and we know DRY MOUTH means BAD BREATH for a majority of us.
So what causes DRY MOUTH? There are lots of factors and causes of dry mouth…some more obvious than others…here is a list of some.
Medications…there are a lot of different medications that reduce saliva.
Alcohol…drinking alcoholic beverages
Talking…lots of talking dries mouth
Stuffy Nose, sinus congestion, colds…all these may cause mouth breathing which dries out the mouth
Aging…yes one more thing that happens as we get older…less saliva
Sinus Problems and Infections
Stomach Problems such as Acid Reflux
Hormonal Changes like a Woman’s Menstrual Cycle
**Causes that are more from a Systemic Source and not from the mouth often create a bad odor that can be smelled when you breathe out through your nose so this is a test that you can do to see if your bad breath is possibly from a systemic problem.
Smoking: Smoking adds to gum problems, decreases saliva, and increases the Size of the papilla bumps on your tongue which thusly increases the number of Bacteria and debris that gathers on the tongue.
Stress: It has been shown that people often have more bad mouth odors in times of greater stress. No reason for this has been proven but probably is due to a combination of drier mouth and more tissues shedding in the mouth.
Dieting: Dieting can add to bad breath because dieters often get drier mouths and because you burn stored fat which gives off acetone and that creates a medicine smell. If you are on a diet, pay extra attention to cleaning your mouth well along with good tongue scrapping and drink plenty of fluids.
What can you do about your bad breath?
*Clean your Tongue – The back of the tongue is the place where the most gas producing bacteria gathers as well as dead skin and debris. Using a tongue scraper is the number one thing that you can do to fight bad breath. It is amazing the ugly stuff that you will see on the scraper when you clean your tongue.
Mouthwash – Probably the most asked question about bad breath is “Will mouthwash make my bad breath go away?” Most mouthwashes are ineffective or only effective for a very short period of time because they work to just mask the bad odors…just like using a candy mint. But there are mouthwashes that really do help. First, avoid all mouthwashes that contain ALCOHOl. Alcohols dry out the mouth’s tissues causing the tissues to peel and shed off which just feeds the anaerobic bacteria which results in more bad breath. Two types of mouthwash that we have used that we know work good are Oxyfresh and Smart Mouth.
REMEMBER… No mouthwash will work if your mouth is not clean because the mouthwash cannot reach the bacteria if the bacteria is covered in layers of plaque, mucus, and debris. So always brush, floss and tongue scrape first.
Clean your Teeth and Mouth – Again brushing and flossing is necessary to remove bacteria, plague, mucus, food, dead tissues, and other debris.
“What about foods that you eat…do certain foods cause Bad Breath.”
Most people think that the foods they eat are the major causes of bad breath, but as discussed earlier, they are not the main problem. However, some foods do have a bad smell of their own. The best treatment is to clean them out of your mouth. Other foods, such as garlic, produce bad odors because they produce sulfur compounds that enter the bloodstream when eaten and these compounds reach the lungs and are exhaled out when you breathe out in the form of smelly sulfur gases. There is no good way to treat this type of food-related bad breath. You just have to wait for the odor to dissipate. Drinking water with meals that include foods like garlic can help reduce bad odors. The best solution is to avoid foods that over actively create bad odors for you. Cover-ups like mints do little to help and sometimes make the odor worse when they create a mix of odors.
SUMMARY: Clean your mouth really well. Use a tongue scraper daily, preferably every morning. Use the proper mouthwashes that can actually help bad breath. Work on helping any dry mouth issues. All these can help give you the confidence that you won’t have bad breath.