Bad breath can result from multiple causes and can even be a warning sign of an illness.
Bad breath, medically known as halitosis, is usually perceived as a sign of bad oral hygiene. To understand if you can get rid of bad breath permanently, you and your doctor and dentist will first need to look at its probable causes.
What can cause bad breath?
Bad breath can result from multiple causes and can even be a warning sign of an illness. The possible causes include:
- Poor oral hygiene: Not brushing your teeth daily or not flossing them daily, not cleaning your dentures can give rise to bad breath.
- Certain foods: Ingestion of raw garlic and onion are known to cause bad breath. This is due to the substances that they released after their breakdown in the stomach that reach the lungs via circulation.
- Tobacco: Apart from their own odor, smoking and chewing tobacco can cause gum disease and lead to bad breath.
- Infections in your mouth: Dental conditions, such as tooth decay, can cause you to have bad breath.
- Diseases of your nose or throat: Conditions like sinusitis and rhinitis can cause post-nasal discharge and cause you to develop bad breath. Tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils) can also lead to bad breath.
- Decreased salivation/dry mouth: You may have decreased salivation due to disorders of the salivary gland or medical conditions, such as xerostomia (dry mouth), which may be caused by several factors like certain medications, aging, use of alcohol and tobacco, and cancer therapy. Sleeping with your mouth wide open can also cause dry mouth and lead to bad breath.
- Medications: Medicines like antihistamines (used to relieve allergies) and the ones that cause you to urinate frequently (diuretics) can cause dry mouth and lead to bad breath.
- Chronic reflux of stomach acids (gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD) or problems with your digestion
- A foreign body (such as a piece of food) lodged in a nostril (commonly seen in children)
How can I permanently get rid of bad breath?
If the cause is simple, such as bad oral hygiene, treatment of bad breath becomes simple. Identification of cause is important. Even if the cause is unknown, you can try following a few things and see if it works for you in getting rid of or preventing bad breath. These include:
- Brush your teeth twice daily: Dentists recommend brushing your teeth twice daily after you get up from your bed in the morning and at night after dinner.
- Floss at least once a day: Flossing removes the trapped food particles in between the teeth.
- Brush your tongue: The tongue, especially it's part towards the throat, harbors bacteria. Brushing the tongue cleans the tongue and prevents bad breath. Use a tongue scraper or the tongue cleaner at the back of your brush for cleaning your tongue at least once a day.
- Rinse with a mouth wash: Look for a good over the counter mouth wash (such as with mint) that can help you fight and mask bad breath.
- Clean your dental fittings: You need to clean dental implants, such as dentures, daily with a cleaning solution (ask your dentist for one).
- Do things that prevent dry mouth: Drink plenty of water and fluids and eat juicy fruits.
- Wash your mouth after eating certain foods: You can avoid eating bad breath causing foods, such as garlic and onion, or brush after you eat them.
- Skip sugary candies and chew sugar-free gums: Eating a lot of sugary foods is also linked with bad breath. Skip the sugary candies and suck on the sugar-free candies or chewing gums. This will help increase your salivation and keep your mouth from emitting a bad odor due to a dry tongue.
- Change your toothbrush regularly: Replace your old brush either after every 3-4 months or after its bristles become frayed.
- See a dentist regularly: If you have dentures or other dental fittings (and suffer from bad breath), visit a dentist at least twice a year to get them examined and cleaned.
Bad breath is an embarrassing health condition and can be an important social problem; it can make friends and social contacts to avoid meeting you. If not treated properly, the condition can also hamper your professional relationships. If the above measures fail to provide adequate relief from bad breath, consult your doctor or dentist who can identify its root cause by a physical examination and by asking you a few questions.
The doctor or the dentist will treat the bad breath depending on its cause and can help you get rid of it permanently. For example, a condition like xerostomia will need an artificial saliva preparation or a prescription of medicine that increases your salivation.