everything you need to know about bad breath and how to fix it

Everything you need to know about bad breath

WRITING: Randi Bergman

Few things induce social anxiety quite like the fear of your own bad breath. Just as bad? Being on the receiving end of someone else’s. While bad breath something we’ve all experienced at some point or another (ahem, mornings anyone?), what causes it is often a bit of a mystery. Recent coffee intake notwithstanding, it feels like bad breath often shows up out of nowhere like an unwelcome guest. According to Toronto dentist Dr. Erica Borchiver, bad breath, or as its clinically referred to as halitosis, is caused by anything that disrupts the bacterial microbiome in your mouth. This can be anything from food to poor hygiene to dry mouth, which can all lead to “an overgrowth of what is commonly referred to as ‘bad’ bacteria,” says Borchiver. In other words, the stuff that lingers. Here, she breaks down what causes bad breath and some key ways to fix it. 

Can you expand on some of the main causes of bad breath?

“Certain foods and habits favour the growth of bad bacteria, which can lead to bad breath. For example, alcohol-containing mouthwashes dry out the mouth, providing a more favourable environment for bacterial growth of sulfur-producing bacteria. Failure to remove that bacteria via mechanical means like a toothbrush, tongue scraper or floss may be responsible for the foul odor.”

How would you fix this type of bad breath?

“To avoid the persistence of bacteria in the mouth, switching to an alcohol-free mouthwash in addition to using the tools mentioned above will ultimately result in a fresher and healthier mouth. Limiting food containing refined sugars is crucial in minimizing the presence of bacteria, as that is their prime source of food.”

What if these tactics don’t work?

“Visit a dentist for bad breath if it persists, despite making modifications to your diet and oral hygiene routine. A dentist will check for oral conditions that might lead to bad breath such as GERD, gum disease, or even oral cancer. A dentist might perform a clinical exam to check for abnormalities within the mouth and inquire as to other symptoms the patient may be experiencing.”

What are the easiest ways to tackle bad breath on the go?

“Gum is my go-to treatment if I’m looking for a quick freshening up. Otherwise, a good nightly tongue scraping can do wonders for minimizing bad odours.”

And what are some everyday habits you can incorporate to stave it off in the future?

“Everyday habits would include thorough brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste, flossing, and tongue scraping. Drink lots of water to keep the mouth hydrated and try to limit foods that directly cause bad breath like onions, garlic and coffee, and ones that feed odor-causing bacteria like sugary snacks and chips.”

Remember, occasional bad breath is normal, but persistent halitosis may indicate an underlying issue that needs attention. By practicing good oral hygiene, watching your diet, and addressing any underlying medical conditions, you can kiss bad breath goodbye, permanently.

Want more expert-backed oral hygiene advice? Follow us at @itsstimmie for a daily dose. 

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