Nothing can cramp a person’s style worse than bad breath. Whether you’re about to go on a date or head into an important interview, knowing that your odour could be unpleasant to others can impact your self-esteem and social life.
You’re not alone – if it’s any consolation. Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a common condition affecting approximately one out of four people around the world. Just the thought of your breath being on the nose can stunt your social interactions, which may spill over to different aspects of your life.
While eating certain pungent foods can stink up anyone’s breath occasionally, halitosis can also mean you may have an underlying oral health issue, which you must address head-on.
What Causes Bad Breath?
In a nutshell, the production of volatile sulphur compounds or VSCs is what causes bad breath. These compounds are released when oral bacteria break down proteins from food particles.
While VSCs are the primary culprits of bad breath, other factors could lead to a ripe odour in your mouth. Apart from food like garlic and onions, lifestyle habits, such as smoking and alcohol consumption, could also be contributors. Learn more about them below.
You have a dry mouth.
Saliva is essential for keeping the mouth clean and washing away food particles and bacteria. Without enough saliva, bacteria can thrive and fester, causing bad breath.
You love “stinky” food.
Who doesn’t love a bit of garlic bread and pickled onions? Garlic and onions contain compounds that are released when they are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. They are then carried to the lungs and exhaled through the breath.
Dairy products, peanut butter, specific fish varieties, and citrus fruits also cause bad breath.
You may have gum disease.
Gum disease could be an underlying cause behind bad breath – as well as other symptoms such as bleeding gums and loose teeth. Gum disease is a bacterial infection that affects the gums and bones supporting the teeth. Visit your dentist immediately if you notice your gums are extra tender, chewing is painful, and your teeth are sensitive.
You’re a regular smoker.
Do you light up regularly? As you may have guessed, smoking and tobacco use can cause bad breath – but not just because of cigarette smoke. Tobacco products can dry out the mouth, worsening bacteria buildup and producing more VSCs.
You have an underlying medical condition.
Another reason to pay attention to your breath? It could be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Sinus infections, respiratory tract infections, diabetes, liver disease, and kidney disease are usually accompanied by bad breath.
You practise poor oral hygiene.
The most common cause of bad breath is poor oral hygiene. If you do not brush and floss your teeth regularly, food particles can remain in your mouth, providing a breeding ground for bacteria that produce VSCs.
How Can You Get Rid of Bad Breath?
Bad breath affects your confidence and the way you interact with others. And, well, you can’t go on living covering your mouth when you talk. Here are some bad breath treatments and tips to manage your foul situation.
- Drink at least eight glasses of water regularly. Drinking water can help your mouth stay moist, washing away bacteria and food particles that bacteria can feed on.
- Quit smoking. If you smoke or use tobacco products, quitting can help improve your breath and your overall health.
- Chew sugarless gum. Chewing gum can stimulate saliva production. Look for gum that contains xylitol, which has been shown to reduce bacteria and plaque.
- Practise good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, and floss at least once daily to remove food particles and plaque. Use a tongue scraper or brush to remove bacteria from your tongue.
- Visit your dentist. Coming in for regular cleaning can help prevent gum disease and other oral health problems that can cause bad breath.
Certain conditions, such as having crooked teeth, can also affect oral health. Misaligned teeth can cause more food particles to get stuck, which gives your mouth’s bacteria more to feed on no matter how often you practise good oral hygiene.
If you want a treatment that doesn’t interfere with your daily life and routine, then try ClearCorrect. These invisible aligners use a revolutionary tri-layer ClearQuartz material, a flat trimline, and other customisable features to create an effective teeth-straightening solution. They’re also removable, allowing you to brush and floss freely and ensure no food particle gets stuck!
How do you fix bad breath? Follow these tips and get ready to mingle with your renewed confidence.
Cortelli, J. R., Barbosa, M. S., & Westphal, M. R. A. (2008). Halitosis: a review of associated factors and therapeutic approach. Brazilian Oral Research, 22(suppl 1), 44–54.
Kapoor, U., Sharma, G., Juneja, M., & Nagpal, A. (2016). Halitosis: Current concepts on etiology, diagnosis and management. European Journal of Dentistry, 10(02), 292–300.