Bad breath is a very common complaint. It is often seen in surveys as a top reason we are socially rejected, in romance, salesmanship and job seeking. Also called halitosis or oral malodor, studies estimate that half of us have it often. 25% of us have a consistent, severe problem with oral malodor. If you suffer from bad breath, we can help.
What Causes It?
Bacteria is the most common and primary culprit. Studies show this is true in nearly 90% of the cases of bad breath. These tiny creatures live on our tongue, gums and teeth, and produce foul smelling gases. In a small number of cases, certain diseases, like diabetes, Helicobacter pylori infection or lung disease, can be the cause of bad breath as well. Many women, during their menstrual cycle, also experience an increase in oral malodor.
Some things allow these bugs to thrive, including gum disease, broken down fillings and crowns, untreated cavities and a dry mouth. Inadequate brushing and flossing let communities of these bacteria grow and multiply. Of course, certain foods, skipping meals, tobacco and alcohol can all lead to unpleasant breath odor. We are all familiar with what an onion does to us. These causes tend to be pretty straight forward to address - simply avoiding these will do the trick.
Here's What You Can Do
- Be sure you are brushing and flossing - Removing the growing bacteria is the most critical, and first step. Be as thorough as you possibly can.
- See your dentist regularly, and treat all cavities, defective fillings and gum disease. These are breeding grounds filled with communities of bad, foul smelling bacteria, and primary reasons these bugs become hard to get under control.
- Clean Your Tongue - This is a good way to reduce these bugs, and also one of the most effective ways to reduce morning breath. A tongue scraper or toothbrush seem to work equally well according to researchers.
- Use Only Good Rinses - Not all mouth rinses are created equal when it comes to bad breath. Recently, the Journal of the American Dental Association looked at all studies done about mouth rinses and bad breath. They found rinses with antibacterial agents such as chlorhexidine, cetylpyridinium chloride, chlorine dioxide and zinc alone or in combination were the most effective. Essential oils (as in Listerine) were found NOT as effective (its great for gingivitis, though). Non alcohol based rinses are preferred, such as Crest ProHealth (cetylpyridinium chloride) and TheraBreath (chlorine dioxide/zinc), two of my favorites.
- Drink Green Tea -Tea Catechins found in green tea can also help fight gum inflammation.
- Eat Yogurt - The "good" bacteria in unsweetened yogurt has been found to reduce bad breath by 80%.
- Chew Sugarfree Gum -- Studies have shown this can be a good way to keep a dry mouth moist, fight cavities and gum disease, and disable bad bacteria. Chew two pieces five times per day for five minutes.. Key ingredients to look for are Xylitol sweetener, eucalyptus and/or mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana), all have been shown to be effective.
- Leave your denture out at night. Bacteria grow much more at night than during the day, and under and around a denture is a perfect breeding ground. Clean it with a denture cleanser nightly.