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Nobody wants bad breath, and many who have it don’t know they’re afflicted—until they notice that people are standing farther and farther away when they speak. If you’ve ever suffered from halitosis, you’ll understand how embarrassing this condition can be. Some are so embarrassed they won’t even mention it to their dentist. The good news? It’s treatable with a variety of halitosis remedies.
What Is Halitosis?
Halitosis is more chronic than the “stink mouth” you have upon waking, or the post-lunch garlic breath you unleash on co-workers. Unlike those instances, which usually are short-lived, halitosis is persistent and enduring. Also unlike morning and garlic breath, halitosis doesn’t dissipate after brushing, flossing, rinsing, or swishing with mouthwash. You may needs to pursue further halitosis remedies, as described below.
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How Do You Know Whether You Have Halitosis?
Many of us have no idea we’re offending people with our breath. Until we notice that people are becoming wary of close encounters, we may oblivious to our halitosis. Most often, the people who care about us let us in on our problem.
“Sometimes it may be a loved one or family member, or in some instances it may be a coworker,” says Dr. Tyrone Rodriguez, Spokesperson for the American Dental Association (ADA) and a board-certified pediatric dentist in Central Washington State. “If you’re getting that vibe that people are a little standoffish when you speak, it should be important to go and get it checked out to make sure the cause can be found, and that it can be treated and addressed.”
Causes of Halitosis
The most common cause of halitosis is poor oral hygiene. If you’re not strictly following your dentist’s advice (e.g., brushing for two minutes, twice a day, flossing daily, and scraping or brushing your tongue), you’re boosting your risk of halitosis by increasing the amount of plaque, bacteria, and cavities. You’re also upping your risk of gum disease.
To learn more about the causes of halitosis, read our post What Causes Bad Breath? Our Answers Can Help Prevent Halitosis.
SAY “NO” TO ALCOHOL
The burn you feel while using alcohol-containing mouthwash is doing more harm than good, says Dr. Tyrone Rodriguez, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association (ADA). The alcohol impacts the small salivary glands in the mouth, he explains, leading to a slow-down in saliva production. The more saliva the better in terms of a fresh, clean mouth, so “a mouthwash that doesn’t burn you is actually your friend,” Dr. Rodriguez says.
Halitosis Remedies and Treatments
Want to minimize your halitosis? Try these 14 helpful halitosis remedies for fresher breath:
- Brush your teeth. Do this for two minutes every morning and night to remove plaque and bacteria, both of which can contribute to halitosis.
- Brush or scrape your tongue. The tongue is a breeding ground for bacteria. Keep it clean and pink (especially the back) to reduce odor.
- Floss. Once every day. Make sure to get between and around the bottom of the teeth.
- Rinse. Rinse well with water after brushing and scraping to rid your mouth of remaining bacteria or food particles.
- Use alcohol-free mouthwash. Choose a mouthwash that’s high in fluoride and lacks alcohol. Alcohol can decrease saliva production and encourage halitosis.
- Drink water. A moisturized mouth helps keep things clean and fresh.
- Clean dentures. Clean removable dentures daily to ensure they’re free from foul-smelling bacteria.
- Watch what you drink. Avoid sugary and acidic juices and cut back on caffeine and alcohol, which can decrease saliva.
- Chew gum. Sugar-free gum can be an effective tool for minimizing halitosis. “The gum will stick to the surface and will remove to some degree what’s on the surface of the tooth, so gum chewers have less cavities if they’re chewing sugar free gum,” Rodriguez says. The result: a cleaner, fresher mouth.
- Improve your diet. A balanced diet is key to good oral health. “Throw some fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet because they have the enzymes that help break down and capture a lot of the stronger smelling sulfur compounds,” Rodriguez says.
- Chew on mint or parsley. Rodriguez recommends chomping on a few sprigs of mint and parsley to encourage freshness.
- Rinse with baking soda. Baking soda neutralizes acids and other compounds in the mouth. It can also help combat stomach issues such as acid or heart burn, which can contribute to mouth odor.
- See the dentist often. If your halitosis is severe, you may want to up your visits to the dentist. Try going every four or six months instead of 12 for a good cleaning.
- Quit smoking, vaping, and using marijuana. These three vices are the main culprits of today’s bad breath problem. Cut them out for a fresher mouth.
SOURCES & RESOURCES
For more on oral hygiene, bad breath causes, and halitosis remedies, please visit these posts:
When to See a Dentist for Halitosis Remedies
Worried about bad breath? Mention your concerns during your annual dental checkup. Think of your mouth as a house, suggests Dr. Rodriguez.
“The mouth would be the first floor, the sinus cavities and nasal cavities would be the attic, and the stomach would be the basement. When you want to see why the house is smelling, you sometimes have to look in all three places.”
A dentist is your best bet to discover what’s really behind your halitosis. If your dentist can’t determine the cause, he or she should refer you to someone (e.g., a gastroenterologist or an ENT) who can.
CHUCK THE MINTS
While you may think a mint will combat stinky breath and suffice as one of your go-to halitosis remedies, it could make the problem worse, says Dr. Tyrone Rodriguez, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association (ADA). Many mints contain sugar, which can “help bacteria and other craters grow in the mouth,” he explains. On a positive note, mints stimulate saliva, which protects the mouth and neutralizes acids and bacteria.
If you’re going to suck on a mint, choose a brand that contains xylitol, a natural sweetener that’s “been proven to show a reduction in the build-up of bacteria and biofilms that help cause bad breath,” Dr. Rodriguez suggests. “Biofilms are kind of like the little networks or colonies that bacteria form that when they get organized, they get organized usually for trouble. So Xylitol slows down and keeps that process from happening.”