Once in a while, bad breath is inevitable. If you’ve ever partaken in a garlicky pasta dish or enjoyed an everything bagel for breakfast, you’ve undoubtedly had bad breath. While occasional bad breath isn’t anything to be concerned about, if you have chronic bad breath, it’s often a sign that you have a dental or medical issue. Here are our best tips on preventing bad breath – and what to do if they don’t work.
Be diligent with your oral hygiene
Oral hygiene is important when it comes to bad breath prevention because one of the most common causes is bacteria in the mouth. When you don’t brush thoroughly or regularly, food particles accumulate – as does the bacteria that feeds on them – causing odor.
To prevent bad breath, you should:
- Brush for two minutes twice a day, cleaning the fronts, backs, and chewing surfaces of your teeth.
- Floss between all of your teeth at least once a day, all the way down to the gum line.
- Brush any colored buildup off of your tongue.
- If you rinse, use an alcohol-free mouthwash. Rinsing with a mouthwash that contains alcohol can lead to dry mouth, which exacerbates bad breath.
Prevent dry mouth
It’s probably not something you give much thought to, but your saliva plays an important role in your oral health. Throughout the day, it rinses away dead cells, bacteria, and food debris. When your mouth is dry, these begin to accumulate and bad breath results.
Bacterial overgrowth is particularly bad news for your oral health. This causes bad breath, but it can also set the stage for cavities and gum disease. Cavities and gum disease can cause bad breath, compounding the problem even further.
If your bad breath is caused by not drinking enough water, the solution is simple – make an effort to stay well-hydrated throughout the day. Sometimes though, dry mouth is caused by health conditions or prescription medications. In these cases, staying hydrated still helps, but you may need to plan on sipping water all day long and keep sugar-free lozenges and gum on hand to stimulate saliva production when drinking isn’t possible.
In the grand scheme of things, bad breath might not be the most important reason to quit smoking, but for some patients, finding out that their embarrassing bad breath is caused by smoking can be the impetus they need to finally kick the habit. While the smell of the cigarette smoke itself lingers on your breath, smoking also causes dry mouth.
Keep up with routine dental visits
During your biannual dental exams and cleanings, plaque and tartar is removed from your teeth, reducing the risk of gum disease and cavities. These visits also allow us to diagnose both of these conditions, which may be causing your bad breath.
Dental checkups are also a great opportunity to discuss your concerns with us. We can recommend specialized mouth rinses or even prescribe medications that stimulate saliva production if you’re suffering from dry mouth.
What to do when bad breath doesn’t go away
If you’ve tried all of the tips listed above and you haven’t noticed an improvement in your breath, it could be a sign that you have a medical issue. Allergies, tonsil stones, GERD, sinus problems, and other health conditions can cause bad breath. If we’re not able to help you determine the cause, make an appointment with your primary care physician for a health assessment.
Learn more about bad breath
Not sure what’s causing your bad breath? We can help. Contact us at 212.685.4730 to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors.