Are you concerned that your breath might be an ongoing problem? As embarrassing as it might be to have bad breath, it’s much worse to have it and not realize you have an issue. The good news is that chronic bad breath (or halitosis, as it’s formally called) is usually quite easy to identify and treat. And if it’s a symptom of an underlying condition, then even more important to get to its root cause.
First of all, how do you know whether your breath smells foul? Because it’s almost impossible to detect on your own, the best way to confirm you have bad breath is to ask your dental health professional or a trusted friend to help out. If you do have an issue, the next step is to determine its cause(s) to prevent recurrence, or perhaps identify a broader health issue that needs to be addressed. The most common halitosis triggers include a range of offenders – some likely and others you might not think of – including:
- Cavities or cracked/infected teeth
- Gum disease
- Aromatic foods like garlic and onions
- Dairy products – this is one category our patients don’t usually think of. The naturally-occurring bacteria in your mouth feed on the amino acids contained in dairy foods, and this process results in a foul breath smell.
- Extreme diets, like juice cleanses and very low-carb regimens
If one of the above is the culprit, your best path to fresher breath is, first of all, to maintain regular dental check-ups. Second, practice fastidious home care, brushing, thoroughly flossing, and rinsing twice daily. Eat a healthy, balanced diet with regular meals, avoiding the offending food groups listed above, and try to snack on watery foods like apple slices, carrot sticks, and celery; they tend to have a rinsing effect and break up residue in your mouth.
While almost 80% of halitosis cases originate from an oral source, there are internal systemic causes that sometimes need to be explored. Acid reflux disease can cause chronic bad breath, for example, as can diabetes, liver disease, respiratory infections, and chronic bronchitis. Often these underlying conditions cause chronic dry mouth, which is in itself almost always a symptom that should be treated in conjunction with broader diagnostic testing.
So if you think you may have an issue with odor, it makes sense across the board to deal with it promptly. Not only will you save yourself unnecessary embarrassment – you’ll be protecting your overall health and wellbeing!