August 30, 2018

Bad breath – we’ve all been there. The American Dental Association reports that at least half of all adults have suffered from bad breath at one time or another, but there’s a big difference between having less than fresh breath occasionally, and the misfortune of having chronically bad breath. When it feels like you’re constantly fighting against halitosis, your self-esteem can really take a hit. Here at Scott Edwards Cosmetic And Family Dentistry, we want you to feel confident in your smile! We know that a stick of gum or breath mint isn’t going to resolve bad breath that you can’t seem to get rid of. Keep reading to learn more about what halitosis is, what you can do about it, and how we can help you deal with it!

What can cause halitosis?

Halitosis, which is simply the official term for bad breath that is chronic and persistent, can have a wide variety of causes, ranging from simple to serious. Some of the most common offenders include:

Dry mouth

A number of things can contribute to you having a dry mouth, such as medications, smoking, and mouth breathing. When there is a lack of saliva in your mouth, bacteria won’t be rinsed out as well as they should be, which can lead to bad breath. Occasional dry mouth is normal, but bad breath could become chronic if you’re experiencing it regularly.

Dental problems

Halitosis can often be the result of tooth decay and gum disease. Gingivitis and periodontal disease can create cavities or pockets around the gums, giving bacteria a place to hide and multiply. This bacteria can produce foul-smelling breath which short-term freshening methods only mask.

Underlying medical issues

Viruses and illnesses, especially those that affect the sinuses, nasal passages, and throat, can sometimes result in halitosis. Offensive breath often accompanies colds and sinus infections. The American Dental Association has reported that chronic bad breath can sometimes also be a sign of certain liver and kidney diseases.

How to get a handle on halitosis

If your bad breath is a short-term problem, it only requires a short-term solution! But even long-term halitosis sufferers can often find some measure of relief in these quick fixes, such as:

Pop a sugar-free mint or chew sugar-free gum

Sugar-free mints won’t cure halitosis, but they’re a great tool to have when you need a fast way to freshen your breath! Sugar-free gum is another easy, fast way to get rid of your bad breath. Chewing gum will also stimulate your salivary flow, which is especially helpful if the odor is due to a dry mouth. You can use mints and gum as frequently as necessary, as long as you choose a sugar-free variety. Gum and mints that contain sugar can contribute to tooth decay and other dental problems.

Drink plenty of water

Halitosis that is caused by a persistent dry mouth is due to a lack of saliva. Because your saliva washes away the leftover food particles that can make your breath smell, an inadequate amount of it can mean those particles stay put. Drinking water is an easy way of mimicking saliva, and will help to rinse away the debris that leads to bad breath. Keep a water bottle with you whenever possible so you can sip on water throughout the day to keep bad breath at bay

Keep breath spray nearby

Breath sprays come in flavors like cinnamon and spearmint, and a quick burst can freshen your breath when you aren’t able to chew gum or drink a glass of water. Like with gum and mints, you should choose a sugar-free breath spray to avoid increasing your risk of tooth decay.

Use mouthwash to mask odor and kill bacteria

Antibacterial mouthwash is excellent for helping you mask bad breath while also killing the bacteria inside your mouth that contribute to it. For fresh breath anytime, keep a travel-sized bottle in your purse, briefcase, or desk drawer.

Edwards DDS staff working with a patient

Other ways to beat bad breath

Whether your bad breath is temporary or a symptom of a bigger problem, the following tips will benefit your teeth, gums, and overall oral health.

Brush and floss regularly

Brush your teeth at least twice a day, every day, for at least two minutes. And don’t forget to floss between your teeth every night before bed to clean out all that bacteria that leads to bad breath!

Take good care of your tongue

Bad breath bacteria loves the back of your tongue, because it’s an area that’s often neglected, allowing the stinky stuff to multiply. Use a toothbrush or a tongue scraper to clear them all out during your morning and evening hygiene routine.

Get more saliva moving

To keep saliva flowing and rinsing your mouth naturally, eat healthy, fibrous foods such as carrots, apples, and celery. Not only will the chewing action increase saliva production, the fibers will also act as a natural toothbrush, cleaning your teeth as you eat.

Quit smoking

Smoking is a bad habit any way you slice it, but one thing it’s fairly well known for is causing halitosis, or “smoker’s breath.” Smoke particles can linger in the throat and lungs for hours, giving your breath a stale scent. The chemicals in tobacco smoke also remain in the mouth, leading to a whole host of secondary causes of bad breath. As mentioned briefly above, tobacco can lead to chronic bad breath by drying out the tongue and gums, leaving a chemical-filmed environment where oral bacteria can run amok. Giving up smoking is good for your body in many ways. Forget better breath – you’ll have a better quality of life!

Regular dental check-ups

Making an appointment with a dentist like Dr. Edwards twice a year will give him the chance to learn what’s normal and what’s not when it comes to your oral health. He’ll also be able to detect any potential issues early, so that they can be treated before becoming more serious. 

Edwards DDS staff working with a patient

Long-term relief for halitosis

Gum, mints, and other quick fixes are just temporary solutions to occasional bad breath. If you’re dealing with true halitosis due to decay, illness, or any other reason, you shouldn’t stop at simply masking the problem. Dr. Edwards is an experienced dentist with over thirty years of experience treating families in Memphis and the surrounding areas. If you suffer from halitosis, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with him at our East Memphis or Midtown office to find out the underlying cause of the problem. Once we know what the issue is, we can offer a variety of treatment options to get rid of your chronic bad breath for good!