Bad breath got you avoiding everyone? Stop hiding behind your hand and smile with confidence with these proven remedies.
Do you suffer from bad breath? If so, you’re not alone. Most people find themselves with less-than-desirable breath on an occasional basis. Others may deal with chronic halitosis. No matter where you fall on the bad breath spectrum, there are ways to prevent and treat it. Understanding the cause of your foul breath will help you pick out a remedy that is sure to work.
What Causes Bad Breath in the First Place?
All types of bad breath have one thing in common—they all stink. That’s where the similarities end. Before you can cure your halitosis, you need to know why it started in the first place. Here are some of the most common causes of smelly breath:
Periodontitis, or periodontal disease, is one of the top culprits for foul-smelling breath. This serious gum disease is typically a result of someone being overdue for a professional cleaning. Calculus builds up under the gumline and creates a prime environment for pathogenic bacteria to thrive. As the infection progresses, it can destroy the bone around the teeth, including the jawbone.
The damaging bacteria causing Periodontitis are called anaerobes; they have a distinct odor known in the dental industry as “perio breath.” Quite frankly, it smells like death because it sets up a chronic disease in which vital bone starts to die off. The best treatment is to avoid getting it in the first place by keeping up with regular cleanings. If you already have periodontal disease, a deep cleaning known as SRP (scaling and root planing) and more frequent cleanings will help you get the disease under control. Someone with periodontitis often requires a professional dental cleaning every three months instead of twice per year.
What did you eat before you noticed your breath didn’t smell great? Some foods, including garlic and onions, have a reputation for causing stinky breath. These pungent foods contain high levels of sulfur. Even though sulfur is extremely healthy, it also creates a distinct, somewhat unpleasant aroma. That’s why many people can trace their short-term bad breath back to a garlicky meal.
Smoking and Tobacco
Bad breath is prevalent with tobacco users. The smell of cigarette smoke can linger inside your mouth for hours. Furthermore, smoking and chewing tobacco can even dry out the inside of your mouth and make your breath smell even worse. Smoking is a leading cause of gum disease, which also causes foul breath.
Harmful bacteria love to eat away at tooth enamel, and if left unchecked, tooth decay will eventually form. Most people know tooth decay by its more popular name—cavities. Tooth decay creates tiny holes in the surface of your teeth, and cavities are also a common cause of bad breath. To repair a cavity, a dentist uses a drill to remove all traces of tooth decay and bacteria. They then place a filling in the hole to protect the tooth from further damage.
Sugar tastes delicious, but too many sugary foods and drinks may lead to halitosis. Bacteria inside the mouth love to eat sugar, and as it does, these dangerous bacteria release foul-smelling gases. The result? Often, people who eat too much sugar have bad breath, and many go on to develop cavities.
Low-carb diets are one of the trendiest ways to lose weight. And while many people are successful, eliminating carbohydrates doesn’t come without consequence. Those on a low-carb, high-protein diet go into a metabolic state known as ketosis. When this happens, the body releases ketones into the breath and urine. Unfortunately, ketones make your breath stink—often like nail polish remover! Sure, you may drop several pounds, but halitosis is usually an unwanted side effect of a low-carb diet.
Most people know the unpleasant sensation known as cottonmouth. Dry mouth happens when there isn’t enough saliva to lubricate the mouth, and it can occur for many reasons. It’s often the first sign of dehydration, but certain medications and illnesses may also cause dry mouth. Unfortunately, when the mouth doesn’t provide enough salvia, leftover food particles begin to rot. When this happens, bad breath is sure to follow.
Untreated Medical Conditions
Some medical conditions can also make your breath stink. Post-nasal drip during allergy season is a major contributor to bad breath. Diabetes often causes sickeningly sweet breath, and kidney disease may lead to ammonia breath. Other medical conditions related to halitosis include GERD, ulcers, asthma, and even lactose intolerance.
As if having a condition that causes halitosis isn’t bad enough, some medicines used to treat these illnesses also produce foul breath. Any medication that dries out the mouth can affect your breath. These may include antihistamines, sedatives, diuretics, and decongestants. Even chemotherapy and lung inhalers may increase the risk of bad breath and other oral problems.
Tonsil stones and bad breath go hand-in-hand. These hard, white stones form when food, mucus, and bacteria accumulate on the tonsils. The immune system sends white blood cells to fight off these invaders. When the white blood cells retreat, they leave behind small calcifications. In most cases, a person swallows these calcifications. However, they can grow into larger tonsil stones. And these stones have a reputation for causing severe halitosis.
Yes, a problem in your gastrointestinal tract may cause foul breath. A blockage inside the intestines prevents the body from expelling waste. As the blockage intensifies, everything inside the bowel begins to ferment, and the body forces any gases out through the mouth. If your breath smells like fecal matter, you may have a life-threatening obstruction. Seek medical care immediately.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Brushing and flossing are the best ways to keep your breath smelling fresh. When you forget to brush or floss, leftover food particles begin to rot and produce bad breath. Eventually, soft plaque will form into hard tartar. When this happens, your risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease increases. Everyone should make it a habit to follow a proper oral hygiene regimen. Even those who wear dentures should remember to remove and clean their teeth every night according to their dentist’s instructions.
What Are Some Tried-and-True Bad Breath Remedies?
There’s no reason why anyone should have to live with bad breath. After determining the cause of your halitosis, it’s time to take action. Try one (or several) of these remedies, and your breath will smell fresher in no time at all.
A dry mouth is the perfect breeding ground for smelly bacteria. Upping the amount of water you drink each day is an all-natural way to improve your breath. Every sip will help wash away pieces of food and bacteria.
How much water should you drink? Most experts agree that 6-8 glasses a day is a reasonable amount. Carrying a water bottle is one way to remember to meet your daily water-consumption goals.
Brush Twice a Day
Practicing good oral hygiene habits is paramount if you want to combat stinky breath. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing two times a day. Always use a soft-bristle toothbrush, and remember that length matters. Strive to brush for at least two minutes.
When brushing your teeth, pay attention to every nook and cranny. Plaque likes to hide in hard-to-reach crevices, such as below the gum line and between teeth. Be sure to brush your tongue to remove any film, and remember to floss each day.
Put a Stop to Bad Habits
Anything you put inside your body can affect the way your breath smells. If you smoke or chew tobacco, now is a good time to stop. Not only will your breath improve, but so will the color and appearance of your teeth.
You should also monitor the number of sugary or alcoholic beverages you drink each day. While the occasional soda or martini is acceptable, be sure to chase it down with fresh water. Reducing how much sugar comes into contact with your teeth will help prevent cavities and bad breath.
Take a Probiotic Supplement
Harmful bacteria cause foul breath, but good bacteria can remedy the situation. Probiotics are just that—healthy bacteria. Adding a probiotic supplement to your diet may help improve your breath. If you hate popping pills, consider eating yogurt each day. Yogurt contains active and live strains of probiotics, such as lactobacillus, that may improve your oral health.
Probiotics fight off harmful bacteria and help to restore your body’s microbiome. In one study, 85% of participants showed a reduction in bad breath-causing bacteria after taking a probiotic. And probiotics may do more than just improve your breath. There is evidence that these good bacteria may even prevent plaque, reduce the risk of oral cancer, and improve gingivitis.
Opt for a Home Remedy
Believe it or not, but you may have the perfect remedy for bad breath in your kitchen. Before you rush out and buy expensive products, try one of these natural options instead:
- Chew on parsley leaves. The high chlorophyll content of this green herb may help to neutralize sulfur compounds responsible for bad breath.
- Drink some pineapple juice. Fresh pineapple may help combat foul odors inside your mouth. However, since pineapple juice has a high sugar content, be sure to rinse well with water.
- Munch on an orange. Vitamin C may boost saliva production and help wash away bad bacteria. Since oranges are high in this essential vitamin, eating a few slices may improve your breath.
- Eat an apple after garlicky meals. If you love eating garlic, then you know how bad it makes your breath stinks. Apples contain compounds that neutralize the smell of garlic. An apple a day will keep the doctor away and bad breath at bay!
- Drink a glass of milk. Not only does milk help foster strong teeth and bones, but it can also prevent bad breath after eating pungent foods. Choose full-fat milk for the best results.
- Don’t forget the zinc. There is a reason why zinc is an active ingredient in many types of mouthwash and chewing gum. This mineral may help decrease the number of stinky sulfurous compounds in your mouth. Zinc deficiencies can also cause dry mouth, so it’s important to make sure you get enough in your diet.
Treat Underlying Medical Conditions
Do you burp up rancid acid after every meal? Is post-nasal drip part of your everyday life? Ignoring these conditions won’t make them go away, and they could make your breath stink. If you suspect a medical condition may be to blame for your halitosis, it’s time to consult with a physician.
A doctor may recommend lifestyle changes or medications to control any underlying medical conditions. And if you are unsure about your health, scheduling a yearly physical will help rule out potential issues and put your mind at ease.
Mask Odors with Fresh Scents
Bad breath can strike at any time—often when you least expect. Keeping breath-freshening products on hand is a must. Mints, gum, mouthwash, or toothpaste are great options.
What’s the best mouthwash for bad breath?
There are tons of mouthwashes on the market, and most of them can freshen your breath. However, you may want to avoid mouthwashes that contain a lot of alcohol. Although alcohol does help kill bacteria, it can also dry out your mouth and create the perfect environment for cavities to form.
Can you make a homemade mouthwash?
Absolutely! Try swishing around a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water. Vinegar helps eliminate bacteria and will keep your breath smelling great.
Do you know the best toothpaste for bad breath?
A toothpaste that contains baking soda may help neutralize odors. But brushing with any toothpaste, no matter the brand, will help remove plaque and bacteria.
Additionally, look for mints and gum that contain xylitol as an active ingredient. It helps to starve and kill odor-producing bacteria. However, keep any products that contain xylitol away from household pets.
It’s important to note that these solutions don’t address the cause of bad breath. They only mask the problem. Seek medical attention if your bad breath worsens or doesn’t resolve on its own.
Regular Dental Care
Visiting your dentist for regular checkups is perhaps the best way to prevent and treat halitosis. During a routine cleaning, the dentist will remove hardened tartar and check for signs of gum disease. Filling cavities and repairing broken teeth will make your mouth less hospitable for harmful bacteria.
A bright, clean smile not only looks beautiful, but it is also healthier. Be sure to voice any concerns about bad breath with your dentist during your next appointment. They will be able to pinpoint the exact cause of the odor and offer a proven solution to freshen your breath.
Halitosis isn’t just stinky—it’s downright embarrassing. Dr. Saylor wants to help freshen your smile. Whether you experience bad breath on occasion or deal with it daily, we can help pinpoint the exact cause. Get in touch with us to schedule an exam, and say goodbye to bad breath once and for all.Disclaimer: Although this article touches on some common reasons for bad breath and ways to treat it, the list is not 100% exhaustive. This article does not replace professional medical advice. It’s not intended to diagnose bad breath and offers no guarantee that the remedies listed will improve your breath. Be sure to seek medical attention from a dentist and doctor for a comprehensive evaluation.