Believe it or not, a dry mouth is the biggest factor in causing bad breath or halitosis. The saliva that our body produces actually has chemicals that clean it and keep away odor-causing bacteria. When, for any number of reasons, the saliva in our mouths cannot do its normal job, bad breath often ensues.
There are many things that could contribute to a dry mouth, such as how long it has been since you’ve eaten or drank, what you last ate or drank, the amount of physical activity you’ve participated in, or even what time of day it is. Other factors can include medication, systemic diseases, body chemistry, and overall health.
Halitosis affects nearly everyone in the population at some point in their lives and is estimated to be the third leading cause for dental appointments. Dr. Watson is certainly no stranger to discussing this issue, so don’t be afraid to mention it at your appointment. Bad breath is not a new problem either: there are historical records mentioning it dating all the way back to 1550 BC.
A huge problem with bad breath is simply figuring out whether or not you have it. If you are too scared to ask Dr. Watson or your hygienist, you can also check with a trusted friend or family member. If that is still too intimidating, try licking your wrist or scraping the back of your tongue with a plastic spoon, waiting a minute for it to dry and then smelling the results. Keep in mind that self-tests only give approximations and that your breath changes hundreds of times throughout the day.
If you have breath that is extremely foul or persistent, it may be a sign of a serious underlying medical issue. At your appointment Dr. Watson will be able to rule out any life-threatening causes and help you discover ways to treat the problems.
So you have officially figured out that you have bad breath. Now what? The best solution is, as always, to maintain a proper dental hygiene routine, but you can’t brush your teeth all day every day. When you brush your teeth, don’t forget to clean off your tongue, where 80-90% of all bad breath issues reside.
Sipping water is the perfect way to keep your mouth from drying out and it encourages salivary flow as well. Stay away from offending foods such as garlic, onions, fish and cheese. If you do eat one of these, or find that your breath is suddenly stinky, use a mint, mouthwash, or gum. See our next blog post for which brands Dr. Watson recommends the most!