According to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, 40 million Americans suffer from bad breath, or halitosis. Bad breath can get in the way of your social life, make you self-conscious and embarrassed, and even be a sign of an underlying health issue. Bad breath has been linked to the following health problems:
· diabetic ketoacidosis (breath smells fruity)
· lung disease or infection
· liver failure (causes a fishy odor)
· renal failure (breath smells like ammonia)
· sinus or throat infection
· stomach or gastrointestinal (GI) problems (i.e. poor digestion)
· tonsil stones or hardened mucus deposits on tonsils
· tooth infection or gum disease (gingivitis)
How can you get rid of your bad breath, or if you don’t suffer from this keep your mouth fresher every day?
Brush and floss more frequently
One of the prime causes of bad breath is plaque, the sticky build-up on teeth that harbors bacteria. Food left between teeth adds to the problem, so try to brush at least twice a day and floss daily. If you’re worried about your breath, brush and floss a little more often but be careful as brushing too aggressively can erode enamel, making your teeth more vulnerable to decay.
Scrape your tongue
The coating that normally forms on the tongue can harbor foul-smelling bacteria. Gently brush your tongue with your toothbrush or try a tongue scraper, which is designed specifically to apply even pressure across the surface of the tongue area, removing bacteria, food debris, and dead cells that brushing alone can’t remove.
Avoid foods that sour your breath
Onions and garlic are the prime offenders and, unfortunately, brushing after you eat them doesn’t always help. The only way to avoid the problem is to avoid eating onions and garlic, especially before social or work occasions when you’re concerned about your breath.
Smoking damages gum tissue and stains teeth and increases your risk of oral cancer. Over-the-counter nicotine patches can help tame the urge to smoke, or, if you need a little help, make an appointment to talk to your doctor about prescription medications or smoking cessation programs that can help you give up tobacco for good.
Rinse your mouth out
In addition to freshening your breath, anti-bacterial mouthwashes add extra protection by reducing plaque-causing bacteria. After eating, swishing your mouth with plain water also helps freshen your breath by eliminating food particles.
Keep your gums healthy
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common cause of bad breath. This occurs when bacteria accumulates in pockets at the base of teeth, creating bad odors. If you have gum disease, your dentist may recommend a periodontist, who specializes in treating gum disease.