Bad breath isn’t a trivial problem. If severe enough, bad breath — also called halitosis —can strain relationships and even affect your employment. Fortunately, even the foulest breath can be treated.
According to HealthDay, the leading cause of halitosis is bacteria in the mouth. Germs feed on the bits of food particles and debris that build up in the oral cavity and can release some smelly substances, such as methyl mercaptan, the compound that gives feces its odor.
Most people can not smell their own bad breath, so if in doubt, ask a friend for their honest opinion. Certain foods can trigger halitosis, says WebMD. According to a report from the Academy of General Dentistry, strong-smelling foods such as garlic, onions, and coffee can linger on the breath for up to 72 hours. Other common foods are also culprits:
• certain spices
• orange juice or soda
People who diet strenuously on a very low carbohydrate plan can have a distinct breath odor due to ketosis, a metabolic process. Smoking or chewing tobacco can also leave foul odors in the mouth. Gum disease, ill-fitting dentures, yeast infections in the mouth and cavities are other sources of bad breath, as well as seasonal allergies, diabetes, sinus infections and respiratory infections.
The best way to prevent bad breath is to practice good oral hygiene, according to WebMD. Daily brushing and flossing remove food debris and plaque. Remember to always brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper because bacteria, especially on the back of your tongue, can contribute to bad breath.
It’s also important to replace your toothbrush regularly, about every two to three months. Most toothbrush bristles turn blue when it’s time to replace. Rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash can help kill bacteria and adding a fluoride rinse daily helps prevent tooth decay.
Other tips to banish bad breath include:
•See your dentist regularly. WebMD experts recommend visiting the dentist at least twice a year for an oral assessment.
•Drink plenty of water. Keeping your mouth moist helps the saliva do its job of removing food particles. Chewing gum or sucking candy that contains xylitol works, too. If your mouth is too dry, bacteria have a field day feasting on the debris, says HealthDay. Common causes of dry mouth include stress, smoking, fasting, lack of fluids, and prescription medication.
•Eat more fruits and vegetables. Hard fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots and celery help remove odor-causing plaque and food particles.
If your bad breath persists, consult with your dentist to see if there is an underlying medical cause that needs to be addressed.