What’s worse than food remains caught between your teeth? Bad breath. Foul mouth odor is not often a sign of a medical emergency, but it can be humiliating. If you deal with this condition, you’re not alone. In fact, it plagues as much as 50 percent of the adult population (source). Moreover, almost everyone has experienced bad breath in the morning, whether they practice strict oral hygiene or not. Living with reoccurring bad breath can be frustrating as well as embarrassing. But you can learn how to get rid of bad breath and do something about it. By adjusting your habits and taking care of your mouth, you can rid yourself of that unpleasant smell.
What Causes Bad Breath?
According to WebMD, 90 percent of bad breath is caused by bacteria. Bacteria hide on your tongue, between your teeth, and around your gums. They break down food and salivary proteins in your mouth, releasing odor. Morning is the worst time for bad breath because your mouth is dry through the night. Your saliva has an antimicrobial effect that can help curb bad breath; so as your mouth dries out, it becomes the perfect environment for smelly bacteria to grow and produce odor.
Bad breath most commonly begins with dental cavities, gum disease, and poor oral hygiene. However, other causes include malnutrition, uncontrolled diabetes, and dry mouth. Infections, such as sore throat and sinusitis, and intestinal disorders, like heartburn, ulcers, and lactose intolerance, can also result in bad breath (source).
Bad breath can be temporary. Certain foods and drinks, like garlic, onions, coffee, and alcohol, and habits, like smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco, can all cause bad breath. Once metabolized by your liver, garlic compounds can even enter your bloodstream, where odors are then excreted through perspiration and by the lungs (source).
How to Get Rid of Bad Breath
Despite its many causes, mouth odor can be controlled or eliminated with proper care. Don’t let bad breath plague you and the activities you love. Learn how to get rid of bad breath by applying the following breath-freshening habits to your everyday routine:
Brush, Floss, and Rinse More Often
Brushing, flossing, and rinsing might seem like obvious tactics, but the results are tried and true. This is because two major sources of mouth odor are bacteria and decaying food particles (source). Every time you eat, food may be left behind to rot in the crannies of your teeth and gums. To combat this, brush your teeth, gums, and tongue with a soft-bristled toothbrush at least twice a day and floss once a day. You can brush and floss more often if needed, but don’t overdo it. If you brush your teeth too roughly, you can wear down the enamel, making your teeth vulnerable to decay. Using a mouthwash daily adds extra protection by getting rid of bacteria.
Don’t Forget Your Tongue
One of the most important areas of your mouth to clean is your tongue. Your tongue has thousands of tiny bumps and taste buds where bacteria hide. For a more effective solution to odors, try a tongue scraper. “They’re designed specifically to apply even pressure across the surface of the tongue area. This removes bacteria, food debris, and dead cells that brushing alone can’t take care of,” says hygienist Pamela L. Quinones, past president of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association.
Change Your Diet
If you practice good oral hygiene and are still wondering how to get rid of bad breath, try changing your diet. Our bodies absorb the flavors and odors of the foods we eat. Particularly odorous cuisine can linger in your breath for hours after eating. Vegetables in the Allium family, like onions, garlic, leeks, and chives, have a notorious pungent aroma. Reducing your intake of these foods can help freshen your breath.
Acidic beverages, like coffee and alcohol, also cause unwanted bad breath. The chemical compounds in these drinks alter the environment of your mouth and allow odor-causing bacteria to thrive. Drinking water afterward will help wash the acids away. Brushing your teeth 30 minutes after drinking or eliminating your consumption of coffee and alcohol entirely is your best defense.
Finally, add carbs and fruits high in vitamin C to your diet. When your body is deprived of carbs, it starts to break down fats for energy, which creates ketones. Unfortunately, ketones smell bad and can affect how your breath smells. So if you’re on a carb-restricting diet, consider eating healthy, carb-rich snacks to curb mouth odor. You can also eat fruit with high amounts of vitamin C. It will help you fight potentially harmful bacteria that can cause bad breath.
Maintain Your Mouth’s Natural Environment
You can get tooth decay and bad breath if you don’t make enough saliva. So if your mouth is consistently dry, drink plenty of water. Gum will stimulate your mouth’s saliva production, helping you combat bad breath in a pinch. So chew sugarless gum or suck on sugar-free, hard candy to keep your mouth and throat moist. You can also try a humidifier at night to moisten the air in your house. Maintaining your mouth’s natural environment can help decrease any unpleasant odors.
Visit Your Dentist
If your bad breath continues despite your best efforts (and you know you don’t have an underlying health condition), make an appointment with your dentist. He or she will help you learn how to get rid of bad breath. At Duff Family Dental, our doctors care about your overall health; that’s why we offer proven dental services like dental cleaning, teeth sealants, and teeth whitening for you and your family. Call us today at 417-501-8601 and ask us what we can do for you.