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Learn the Causes and Cures for Bad Breath

Bad breath stinks. It’s embarrassing, it causes you to keep your distance, and it can truly impact your day-to-day life. The truth is, we all fall victim to it.

How do I know if I have bad breath?

Most of the time, you don’t even know you have it until someone tells you. Trying to smell your own breath or trusting the taste of your mouth are not indications of freshness or lack thereof. There is no good way to know other than looking at others’ body language when you are close or flat out asking someone you trust.

While it may be an awkward conversation, if you notice someone close to you has frequent bad breath, you may want to gently tell that person.

What’s behind the smell?

Many things can cause halitosis—the medical term for bad breath. It is estimated that at least 85 to 90 percent of halitosis originates in the mouth due to causes such as:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Smoking
  • Diet—eating foods such as garlic, onion, cheese and meat
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Gum disease
  • Plaque buildup—on natural teeth and dentures, too
  • Dry mouth

Non-oral causes range from common, minor illnesses to major medical concerns including:

  • Sinus infection
  • Tonsillitis
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Lung disease

How can I freshen my breath?

There are many actions you can take to curb bad breath, and most of them come down to practicing good oral hygiene.

  • Brush at least twice and floss at least once daily to prevent plaque buildup
  • Have your teeth professionally cleaned every six months
  • Quit smoking. Tobacco use doesn’t just cause bad breath, it increases your risk for developing oral cancer. According to Oral-B, bad breath can be an early-stage symptom of throat and oral cancers.
  • Avoid certain foods. As explained by Ohio State’s Wexler Medical Center, the food we eat is absorbed into our bloodstream where it is transferred into our lungs and expelled in the air we breath
  • Brush your tongue. In its suggestions for improving and preventing bad breath, the Mayo Clinic states that “a tongue scraper is more effective for reducing odors that originate from the tongue.”
  • Use temporary measures such as mouthwash, gum, and mints when you are on the go.

Most of the time, bad breath is just part of life. It can, however, be an indication that something more serious is going on with your oral or medical health. If you find bad breath is getting in the way of your life or is chronic, talk to your dentist or health care provider to be sure nothing more serious is at hand and discuss effective solutions.

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