Bad breath, medically called halitosis, can result from poor dental health habits and may be a sign of other health problems. Bad breath can also be made worse by the types of foods you eat and other unhealthy lifestyle habits.
If you don’t brush and floss your teeth daily, food particles can remain in your mouth, which promotes bacterial growth between teeth, under the gumline, and on the tongue. This causes bad breath. In addition, odor-causing bacteria and food particles can cause bad breath if dentures are not properly cleaned.
Smoking or chewing tobacco-based products can also cause bad breath, stain teeth, reduce your ability to taste foods, irritate the gums, and cause periodontal disease.
Bad breath can be reduced or prevented if you:
- Practice good oral hygiene. Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove food debris and plaque. Brush your teeth after you eat (keep a toothbrush at work or school to brush after lunch). Don’t forget to brush your tongue, too. Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months. Use floss or an interdental cleaner to remove food particles and plaque below your gumline once a day. Dentures should be removed at night and cleaned thoroughly with soap and water before being placed in your mouth the next morning.
- See your dentist regularly – at least twice a year. He or she will conduct an oral examination and professional teeth cleaning and will be able detect and treat periodontal disease, dry mouth, or other problems that may be the cause of bad mouth odor.
- Stop smoking/chewing tobacco-based products. Ask your dentist for tips on kicking the habit.
- Drink lots of water. This will keep your mouth moist. Chewing gum (sugarless) or sucking on candy (sugarless) also stimulates the production of saliva, which helps wash away food particles and bacteria.
- Keep a log of the foods you eat. If you think the foods that you eat may be causing your bad breath, record what you eat. Bring the log to your dentist to review. Similarly, make a list of the medications you take. Some medications may play a role in creating mouth odors.