Remember the time your colleague kept presenting and no one could concentrate because of his stale breath, or the time when the teacher was teaching and you had to cover your nose because her breath stank? Bad breath can cause embarrassment and can affect your self-confidence too. We all want confidence that comes from a great smile and fresh breath. Wherever you’re interacting with people, don’t let bad breath get in your way.
What causes bad breath?
The following can lead to bad breath (1):
- Bacteria – Your mouth naturally contains many different types of bacteria. When you eat, bacteria feed on the tiny food particles left in your mouth which can cause bad odors.
- Smoking and Tobacco – Smoking gives you bad breath and because smoking also affects your sense of smell, smokers may not be aware of how their breath smells.
- Food – As you eat food, your digestive system breaks it down into their chemical components that are small enough for your body to absorb. Once absorbed into your bloodstream, they are carried to your lungs and affect your breath when you breathe out. Certain foods contain chemicals that have a very pungent smell. For example, onions and garlic contain sulphur compounds which give off a bad smell, and in turn cause bad breath. (2)
- Gum Disease – You might have a constant bad taste in your mouth or experience constantly bad breath. This is often a warning sign of gum disease, which is caused by a sticky, cavity-causing bacteria called plaque. (3)
- Dry Mouth – Saliva is important because it cleans your mouth, washing away food debris and bacteria remaining in the mouth. If you don’t have enough saliva, your mouth isn’t being cleaned as much as it should be. (4)
- Medical Conditions – Mouth and sinus infections can cause bad breath. It can also be caused by gastric reflux and diabetes. (5)
Top Tips for Fresh Breath
- Maintain good oral hygiene, by following these basic steps (6):
- Brush for two minutes, twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste.
- Use a tongue scraper.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Drink lots of water to keep your mouth moist. (7)
- Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless mints. Mint-flavored gum helps to mask odor and the chewing promotes the production of saliva, which helps rinse your mouth of harmful plaque and bacteria. Be sure the gum and mints you choose are sugarless because sugar creates plaque, which could add to the problem. Instead, try gums and mints containing xylitol. (8)
If your breath is not fresh and consistently smells bad, even with proper oral hygiene and avoiding known causes of bad breath, you may need to consult your dentist or doctor to rule out any underlying causes.