What Causes Bad Breath?

March 14, 2021

Do you ever notice people telling you “What causes bad breath?” If you ever think you may have terrible breath, there’s an easy test you can perform. Just lick your wrist and smell – if your tongue is white, you are fairly certain that your breath has an odor. Or, ask yourself a trusted, true friend; but don’t be afraid, to be honest with yourself. These tests will hopefully let you know whether or not you need to brush your teeth more than once a day, flossing, using mouthwash or some other oral care product.

When it comes to brushing your teeth, many experts recommend brushing your teeth for just two minutes at a time. That’s long enough to give your mouth a chance to air out anything that could irritate it, whether it’s leftover food particles or mineral deposits from your last meal. However, it’s also long enough for you to brush your teeth as thoroughly as possible. Your dental team will recommend a variety of different toothbrushes, so find one that’s best for you:

Dry mouth, or halitosis, is what many people think causes bad breath. Unfortunately, while dry mouth may be uncomfortable and even unattractive, it’s not usually caused by any underlying medical condition. Instead, it’s caused by a lack of saliva. Saliva is essential for keeping your mouth moist, so don’t let your saliva dry out. Use a special saliva-misting mouthwash, or use a commercial mouthwash that contains a high concentration of sugar to stimulate saliva production.

Another common cause of bad breath is overbrushing. While brushing your teeth will help keep plaque on your teeth and between them, it will also remove surface bacteria that are on your teeth and tongue. Be sure to brush your teeth only when necessary; skip brushing your teeth until you feel the need to do so. Also, make sure you brush your tongue, too – an uneven brushing of the tongue can lead to unpleasant odors from your mouth and between your teeth.

If none of these steps help rid your mouth of any unwanted bacteria, or if you still have bad breath after making all the changes above, see a dentist. Sometimes oral diseases or structural defects in the teeth themselves can cause bad breath. If this is the case, your dentist will likely prescribe antibiotics or recommend a treatment to get rid of the bad smell. Typically, you’ll have to wait a while before your bad breath clears up, and your dentist may prescribe several treatments. Before trying any home remedies, talk to your dentist first – every case of bad breath is different, after all.

One of the most common ways to prevent bad breath is to floss regularly. A study of Chinese dentistry found that flossing was significantly more effective than brushing or using commercial mouthwash in eliminating bacteria in the mouth. Other studies have shown that brushing and using commercial mouthwashes don’t always remove everything: plaque can be stubborn and hard to remove, and commercial mouthwashes often contain ingredients that are hard on gums. Flossing is very easy to do and doesn’t cost much, so it’s worth the effort.