Almost everyone suffers from bad breath every so often. But if you suspect that your bad breath has become a chronic issue, there may be an underlying issue that can’t be solved with mouthwash and mints. Here are some common causes of bad breath, medically termed “halitosis,” and how to fix them.
Improper Tooth Brushing
The most common cause of bad breath is patients who brush incorrectly, or those who accidentally skip certain areas when brushing. It can be helpful to ask your dentist to “audit” your tooth brushing technique, and identify whether you are brushing incorrectly. Make sure that the brush is always angled towards the gum line, and always brush the teeth, tongue, and roof your mouth. Don’t forget about the tops of your molars; those with sensitive teeth often unconsciously avoid brushing those areas.
Lack of Flossing
Flossing can be a bit tedious, so many people are likely to skip it. However, flossing is critical to having fresh breath. Don’t believe us? The next time you floss, smell the string before you throw it away. If it’s been a while since your last flossing, you’ll quickly smell the odor made by bacteria in-between the teeth. Note, too, that if you “floss” with a Waterpik®, you are merely rinsing the teeth and gums, not removing bacteria colonies. While a water flosser can be used in conjunction with string floss, it is not an adequate replacement.
“Smoker’s breath” is a well-known consequence of smoking. This is because the chemicals in tobacco, such as nicotine, remain in the mouth and lungs long after a cigarette has been extinguished. Tobacco smoke can also dry out the mouth, reducing the saliva which helps control oral bacteria. Frequent alcohol consumption can also dry out the mouth and cause bacteria to thrive.
Underlying Medical Conditions
If you and your dentist have ruled out each of these other causes, an underlying condition may be to blame. Tonsillitis, respiratory infections like bronchitis, gastrointestinal diseases, and uncontrolled diabetes can all cause bad breath. It’s also possible that a cavity in your mouth has gone undetected, or you are experiencing some other oral issue. Be sure to see a dentist for a comprehensive exam and X-rays, and if this fails to uncover any anomalies, see a general practitioner for a check-up.
Low Country Dental Arts is a Charleston and James Island dentist office specializing in a wide variety of restorative, cosmetic, and general dentist services. To schedule an appointment with our office, please click here.