It’s hard to talk about something as sensitive as bad breath. We might feel ashamed or embarrassed, and try to mask our breath with tricks that encourage more problems to develop. Understanding the causes of mouth odors is the first step to finding an effective solution, easily eliminating this social issue with the right approach.
What Causes that Smell?
All around us, the wind constantly moves across the landscape, picking up invisible odor molecules generated from the dynamic environment it passes through. Whether it’s the scent of flowers in bloom or the foul smell of rotten eggs, these microscopic particles reach our noses, bind to receptors, sending a message.
When we breathe, air rushes across the lining of our airway and mouth. Our breath picks up odors and sends a message to those in its path, just like a breeze. Your diet can contribute by adding odors from compounds absorbed into your bloodstream. Think about having garlic breath, a smell which is often excreted through your pores as well.
Certain medications may also contribute to the problem by altering saliva production and causing a dry mouth. Bad breath, in some cases, is a result of medical conditions like diabetes, chronic bronchitis, liver disease, or respiratory tract infections. If you are concerned that a medical condition is causing bad breath, be sure to talk to your medical doctor.
The Root of the Problem
Did you know that about 80% of bad breath cases result directly from the mouth and the bacteria thriving there? We have millions of oral bacteria in our mouth, producing sulfur gases and other compounds that smell unpleasant. It’s not always easy to check your own breath, so try sniffing floss after you’ve used it to gauge if there are any lurking odors.
Many problems, such as gum disease (which is also the number one cause of tooth loss in adults), cavities, and unclean dentures are culprits in perpetuating this nagging relationship inhibitor. To ensure that any dental disease activity is eliminated, make sure to stay on top of your preventive dental visits. Together we can stop bad breath and help you keep your smile healthy.
Sometimes we’re doing everything right with oral hygiene, but we’re still frustrated by unpleasant mouth odors. If other possibilities have been eliminated, it’s time to take a look at your tongue. The top of the tongue is covered in a forest of papillae, projections that support taste buds and provide a textured surface to aid tactile sensation. The downside is this textured surface also traps dead cells, food debris, and bacteria. The bacteria produces sulfur gases contributing to the odiferous mix, and a forming a coating across the tongue. When this coating thickens, your taste may also be altered as the odor intensifies.
Destroying that Odor
You know brushing and flossing are important, and you already have great hygiene habits. But don’t forget about the benefits of cleaning your tongue. While scrubbing with a brush helps a bit, a tongue cleaner, a unique device that works like a gentle rake, removes the debris embedded in the papillae. Following that up with an anti-bacterial mouthwash can also help to freshen your breath. Pay attention to rinses that contain alcohol, however, as these may dry out the mouth and exacerbate the issue. Try a fluoride rinse, which is often the best choice, or you may benefit from mouthwashes formulated specifically for difficult bad breath cases. Rather than briefly masking odors, these mild rinses neutralize sulfur gases. We can discuss the options and customize a choice for you.
Be wary of other masking techniques such as sugared mints or candies. Too much sugar can quietly create an environment where cavities thrive and cause bigger problems. If you like using mints, look for those sweetened with xylitol, which tastes great and works to destroy cavity-causing bacteria.
By keeping regular visits with your hygienist, you’ll always have a partner for excellent oral health. Finding the right strategies and tools will keep your teeth and gums healthy…and your breath fresh as the summer breeze!