Halitosis, or bad breath, can be unpleasant and significantly reduce your confidence. The good news is halitosis is preventable, and there are measures you can take each day to prevent bad breath from affecting your life.
What is Halitosis?
Halitosis, also known as bad breath, is characterized by a strong, unpleasant odor that a simple mint or mouthwash is unable to solve. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, over 80 million people suffer from chronic bad breath.
Halitosis is typically caused by the decay of food particles or other debris in your mouth, waste from bacteria, and poor oral hygiene. The decay of this debris, if not cleaned out through proper brushing and flossing, produces a sulfur compound which leads to the unpleasant odor. In most cases, the odor originates from the gums and tongue, but in serious cases, it could be a sign of something more serious.
Dental issues that can cause bad breath include cavities and gum disease, as these can give bacteria additional places to grow that are not easy to clean out while brushing or flossing. Sinus and throat infections that result in postnasal drip can also cause halitosis, as the bacteria in your body feeds on the mucus being produced by the infection.
Dry mouth is another major cause of bad breath and one that most people do not normally think of. Saliva is very important for breaking down bacteria and food in your mouth, and also serves to prevent cavities and infections. Dry mouth can be caused by medications, certain medical conditions, and even alcohol or tobacco use.
In addition to the multitude of negative effects caused by smoking and tobacco, it can also cause bad breath. Besides leaving their own unpleasant odor, they can dry out your mouth as well. In fact, smokers are more likely to develop gum disease and, as a result, suffer from halitosis.
Habits to Prevent Halitosis
Although halitosis can be difficult to get rid of, there are steps you can take on a daily basis to prevent the development of bad breath to begin with. The best way to do this is to build effective habits focused on good oral hygiene.
Good Dental Hygiene
Practicing good dental hygiene is one of the most effective ways to prevent halitosis. This includes brushing your teeth and flossing on a regular basis – with an added emphasis on flossing. Many people skip this part of their routine but flossing to remove the pieces of food and bacteria that your toothbrush cannot is essential in preventing bad breath. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash also effectively prevent cavities and gum disease, which are both causes of halitosis.
In addition to your daily dental hygiene routine, you should see a dentist and get a professional cleaning at least twice a year. This will get you an extra deep clean and give your dentist the opportunity to check for cavities and gum disease before they develop or worsen.
Preventing Dry Mouth
Another habit that can help prevent halitosis is proper eating and staying hydrated. There is less saliva produced when you have not been drinking enough water or eating on a regular basis, and as mentioned above, dry mouth is a leading cause of bad breath.
Similarly, your body produces less saliva when you sleep, so flossing and hydrating first thing in the morning is also imperative to keep away bad breath.
The same goes for alcohol consumption – if you’ve had a fun night out drinking, make sure to floss and drink some water when you get home so that you can prevent bad breath in the morning.