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Has anyone you love ever complained about your breath? Are you self-conscious because your breath is less than fresh? If you struggle with bad breath, there are good reasons for it as well as things you might need to be aware of. It can be caused by something as simple as the food you eat and something a little trickier like the medications you take. Following is a breakdown of some causes of chronic bad breath and what you can do to help prevent it.

What are you eating?
As you chew your food and break it down, it can increase the bacteria production in the mouth, which contributes to breath odors. Eating particularly pungent foods like spices, onions, or garlic make your breath even worse. Even digesting these foods can make your breath smell, as it enters your bloodstream and on to your lungs where it affects your breath. Drinking copious amounts of coffee can also leave a strong residue on the back of your tongue where bacteria likes to hide. Finally, diets that can affect the metabolism–like extreme fasting and extra-low carb diets–make the breath smell bad.

Are you practicing good oral hygiene?
Brushing and flossing twice a day is the foundation of your oral health. If you don’t clean your teeth and gums, food particles are left behind that can make your breath smell. Brushing and flossing removes the colorless, sticky bacterial film known as plaque which can trap bacteria and cause odors otherwise. Even the tongue harbors bacteria so taking the time to brush or scrape your tongue helps.

Do you smoke?
If you smoke tobacco, it can leave a strong, unpleasant aftertaste in the mouth. Many smokers also have gum disease which also contributes to bad breath.

Do you have dry mouth?
Saliva production is integral to a healthy mouth. One important thing saliva does is clean your mouth. If saliva production is down you may have a condition called dry mouth, which contributes to bad breath. Dry mouth actually happens every time you sleep, and that is why you wake up with unpleasant “morning breath”. Dry mouth can also be caused by taking certain medications, diuretics, lack of hydration, consuming alcohol and tobacco use.

Do you have an infection?
Sores in the mouth including canker sores, tooth decay, gum disease at any stage, or recent oral surgery can all contribute to unpleasant mouth odors. Sinus infections, post nasal drip, diseases like cancer and metabolic disorders including acid reflux can leave a bad taste in your mouth along with unpleasant breath.

What You Can Do:

–Snack on raw apple slices, celery, or carrots to help clear your mouth of debris. Stay clear of garlic and onions and heavy spices.

–Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water and avoid diuretics to maintain saliva production.

–It is vital to brush and floss twice daily, and be sure to clean your tongue.

–Use an antibacterial mouthwash to fight bad breath while lowering bacteria.

–Consider a smoking cessation program if you smoke, and limit alcohol consumption.

–Chew sugarless gum to stimulate saliva production in between meals and make your breath smell fresh.

–See your dentist every six months to remove hardened plaque (tartar) off your pearly whites as well as rule out gum disease.

If you have any questions or would like to be seen by our dentist, Dr. Vinh T. Pham, please call our Kirkwood Dental staff at 408-378-8500 today!