**This post is not intended to be expert medical advice
Nobody likes bad breath. Have you ever wanted to get your hazmat suit ready because of someone else’s breath? In this post, we dive into 6 tips for fighting halitosis.
Halitosis is the technical term for chronic bad breath. Everyone has bad breath from time to time, but halitosis is a chronic condition. This means that it is persistent and long-term. Chronic bad breath can also be a symptom of an oral health problem. According to the American Dental Association, bad breath is primarily caused by 6 main factors: Bacteria, Dry Mouth, Gum Disease, Food, Smoking/Tobacco and Medical Conditions. Another less common cause of halitosis is tonsil stones. This post will give you a few tips for fighting bad breath and improving your oral health along the way.
Use Proxabrushes or Waterpiks – When you floss, focus on areas that tend to trap food. Sometimes gaps between certain teeth can trap more food than others because of the position or shape of the teeth. Consider using a proxabrush or a waterpik to reach hard-to-get areas. Ask your dental hygienist for more information on these products (which we carry at Nampa Dental). Making these areas a priority when you brush and floss can eliminate plaque and chunks of food that can cause bad breath.
Don’t Rely on Mints or Gum – Mints, mouthwash and gum can be useful in a pinch if you need fresh breath quick. Although mouthwash kills bacteria, it does not remove plaque and tartar, which are the usual sources of bacteria in the mouth. Attentive brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist for professional dental cleanings are the only way to eliminate plaque and tartar.
Stay Hydrated – Your oral health is connected to the health of the rest of your body. Staying properly hydrated will help keep your mouth from getting dry. Dry mouth is a condition when glands in the mouth stop producing saliva. It can be caused by nervousness, stress, certain medications, aging, and various autoimmune diseases. Smoking may also increase risk of dry mouth. Dry mouth can directly contribute to bad breath and other oral health problems. We recommend a special mouth lozenge called Salese for patients who suffer from chronic dry mouth. Ask your dentist or doctor for more information if you think you might suffer from chronic dry mouth.
Visit the Dentist Regularly – Visiting the dentist’s office for professional dental cleanings and exams is the best way to discover and eliminate the underlying causes of bad breath. Your dental hygienist is professionally trained to remove plaque and hard, calcified buildup called tartar (or calculus) that produce unhealthy bacteria. These bacteria can cause tooth decay and periodontal disease in addition to bad breath.
Use a Tongue Scraper/Cleaner – Our tongues are incredible muscles that allow us to speak, sing and eat the way we do. Unfortunately, they can also be a culprit of bad breath. Your mother was right when she told you to brush your tongue… But only half right. Brushing the tongue with a toothbrush is not sufficient to remove all of the bacteria and buildup that cause bad breath. A tongue cleaner is a small, flexible plastic instrument that can remove this layer. Brace yourself, this can be disturbing!
Check Your Tonsils – Tonsils are located at the very back of the throat, where most people’s gag reflex kicks in. As you probably know, tonsils can become infected and inflamed. What you might not know is that they also have nooks and crannies that can accumulate food, mucus and other debris. This debris can form “tonsilloliths” or tonsil stones. These stones are white or yellow in color and can become calcified. They are extremely foul smelling and can cause halitosis. If you suffer from tonsil stones, you are not alone. Some research indicates that between 16-24% of the population may suffer from tonsil stones, but the research is limited. Tonsil stones can be removed, but the best thing to do is consult a doctor who may refer you to an otolaryngologist to have the tonsils checked. Tonsillectomy (surgical removal of tonsils) is the only reliable method for permanently treating tonsil stones.
Keep in mind that everyone has bad breath sometimes. If you suffer from chronic bad breath, we hope these tips are helpful! As always, consult a doctor or your dentist for more detailed information and treatment.