Bad breath happens. If you’ve ever gottenthat
not-so-fresh feeling on a date, at a job interview or
just talking with friends, you’re not alone. Studies show
that 50 percent of adults have had bad breath,
or halitosis, at some point in their lives.
What Causes Bad Breath?
There are a number of reasons you might have dragon
breath. While many causes are harmless, bad breath
can sometimes be a sign of something more serious.
Bad breath can happen anytime thanks to the
hundreds of types of bad breath-causing bacteria that
naturally lives in your mouth. Your mouth also acts
like a natural hothouse that allows these bacteria to
grow. When you eat, bacteria feed on the food left in
your mouth and leaves a foul-smelling waste product
Feeling parched? Your mouth might not be making
enough saliva. Saliva is important because it works
around the clock to wash out your mouth. If you don’t
have enough, your mouth isn’t being cleaned as
much as it should be. Dry mouth can be caused by
certain medications, salivary gland problems or by
simply breathing through your mouth.
Bad breath that just won’t go away or a constant bad
taste in your mouth can be a warning sign of
advanced gum disease, which is caused by a sticky,
cavity-causing bacteria called plaque.
Garlic, onions, coffee… The list of breath-offending
foods is long, and what you eat affects the air you
Smoking and Tobacco
Smoking stains your teeth, gives you bad breath and
puts you at risk for a host of health problems. Tobacco
reduces your ability to taste foods and irritates gum
tissues. Tobacco users are more likely to suffer from
gum disease. Since smoking also affects your sense of
smell, smokers may not be aware of how their breath
Mouth infections can cause bad breath. However, if
your dentist has ruled out other causes and you brush
and floss every day, your bad breath could be the
result of another problem, such as a sinus condition,
gastric reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney disease. In
this case, see your healthcare provider.
How Can I Keep Bad Breath Away?
Brush and Floss
Brush twice a day and clean between your teeth daily
with floss to get rid of all that bacteria that’s causing
your bad breath.
Take Care of Your Tongue
Don’t forget about your tongue when you’re taking
care of your teeth. If you stick out your tongue and
look way back, you’ll see a white or brown coating.
That’s where most of bad breath bacteria can be found.
Use a toothbrush or a tongue scraper to clear them out.
Over-the-counter mouthwashes can help kill bacteria
or neutralize and temporarily mask bad breath. It’s
only a temporary solution, however. The longer you
wait to brush and floss away food in your mouth, the
more likely your breath will offend.
Clean Your Dentures
If you wear removable dentures, take them out at
night, and clean them thoroughly before using them
again the next morning.
Keep That Saliva Flowing
To get more saliva moving in your mouth, try eating
healthy foods that require a lot of chewing, like
carrots or apples. You can also try chewing sugar-free
gum or sucking on sugar-free candies. Your dentist
may also recommend artificial saliva.
Giving up this dangerous habit is good for your body
in many ways. Not only will you have better breath,
you’ll have a better quality of life.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
If you’re concerned about what’s causing your
bad breath, make an appointment to see your dentist.
Regular checkups allow your dentist to detect any
problems such as gum disease or dry mouth and
stop them before they become more serious. If your
dentist determines your mouth is healthy, you may
be referred to your primary care doctor. Need a
dentist? Find an ADA member near you.