Have you ever shied away from talking to a colleague or even friend because you can smell their bad breath?
Bad breath happens to us all on occasion, such as in the mornings or after a spicy meal, and it’s quite normal. However, if you have persistent bad breath, this could be a sign of gum disease.
Here are a few tips on how to prevent it and what to do if you can’t get it to go away.
Why Do We Get Bad Breath?
There are a few reasons why we may end up with occasional or persistent bad breath. Sometimes it is a case of gasses and other material coming from bacteria and even your stomach. If there are pieces of food in your teeth or mouth for too long, they will rot and start to smell.
Bad breath can even be the result of dry mouth which can be caused by some medications and other health problems like sinusitis and diabetes. Dry mouth can get worse as we age, so if you’re feeling the effects, ask your dentist for solutions (such as artificial saliva) if this is a problem.
Preventing Bad Breath
Unless you have a serious problem with your gums, a regular brushing and flossing routine should prevent occasional bad breath. Mouthwash — or even rinsing with salt water — is an option as well and can help clear out some bacteria and plaque.
Another thing you could do is keep a diary of food and medication, take it to your dentist and have them help you determine areas of concern and things you could avoid.
Here are some other tips:
- Regular dentist visits are a must.
- Cut down on coffee, sugary, and strong-smelling foods whenever possible.
- Brushing your teeth right away in the early morning and before bed at night, as well as once during the day, with fluoride, can help a lot.
- Use a tongue scraper and something to floss your teeth at least once each day.
- Chew sugar-free gum after meals.
- If you smoke, quit.
- Drink a lot of water, particularly after meals.
And last but not least, if you wear dentures, soak them in a solution every night and use a separate toothbrush to clean them. Be sure to clean all parts of the dentures, especially the pieces that sit up against the gums.
Bad Breath and Gum Disease
If you are experiencing bad breath regularly, and it doesn’t have any specific cause, this may be a sign of periodontal (gum) disease. Gum disease may affect up to half of the world’s population and is more likely if you smoke, have diabetes, are older, or even live a high-stress lifestyle. These are just a few of the things that can cause or exacerbate gum disease.
And while diabetes and cardiovascular disease don’t necessarily cause gum disease, research shows a lot of correlation between the two, and gum disease appears to be worse in those with diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes.
At its worst, gum disease leads to tooth loss. But the truth is that not all is “lost” in this case. Proper dental hygiene along with routine trips to the dentist can prevent and even reverse mild gum disease. The most important part is that you stay alert for signs of it, such as bad breath, and get checked out regularly.