Bad breath or halitosis is a problem that has been around forever. One in 4 people have offensive breath and some studies place the number as high as fifty percent of the population, definitely causing a few woes for many.

The condition does not discriminate, anyone can suffer from it, young and old. However, according to medical experts, it seems age makes us more likely to have bad breath. In most cases, however, just a few tweaks in your lifestyle can remedy the problem.

Causes

  • The types of foods we ingest can contribute to bad breath. Odorous foods can definitely exacerbate unpleasant mouth odor.
  • Another common cause of bad breath is dry mouth, which often is age-related. As we get older, the salivary glands produce less saliva, a natural mouth cleanser. A dry mouth with little saliva allows these anaerobic colonies to grow quickly.
  • Not flossing or brushing your teeth regularly can lead to odor-causing plaque build up. Plaque can increase over time, and cause irritation that leads to gum inflammation called periodontitis. The improper cleaning of dentures can harbor bacteria and this will make your breath smell.
  • Fasting and sticking to a diet that is low in carbs can lead to halitosis. This is due to the breakdown of fats producing chemicals called ketones. These ketones have a strong scent.
  • Health conditions like infections or inflammation of the nose, throat, and mouth can also contribute to bad breath. In addition, diseases like diabetes, some cancers, gastrointestinal issues like reflux, liver/kidney failure, lung infections, bowel obstruction, abscesses and other medical conditions can contribute to the issue as well.

Treatment

The best way to determine if you have bad breath is to ask someone to take a whiff of your breath. If no one is around, you can lick your wrist, let it dry, then smell it.   If you are an offender and your problem is not a medical one, you can follow these tips to get your breath just right:

  • Adopt healthy oral habits. A visit to a dentist twice a year for a routine cleaning and check-up is advised to ward off problems like gum disease or cavities. The dentist might recommend a toothpaste or mouthwash with an antibacterial ingredient that can help correct the problem. If gum disease is present, a dentist can clear away the bacterial build-up in pockets between the gums and teeth. If you wear dentures, a bridge, or mouth guard, make sure you know how to properly clean them. Change your toothbrush every couple of months as well. Don’t forget to brush at least twice a day and floss regularly to avoid plaque build-up.
  • If you suffer from dry mouth, drinking water or chewing sugarless gum can help to keep the saliva flowing. Smoking and drinking alcohol can dehydrate the mouth so avoid doing so.  If your mouth is chronically dry, a doctor may prescribe medication that stimulates the flow of saliva.
  • Steer clear of foods that smell like onions, garlic, spicy foods, all contributors of foul breath. Cut down on coffee and alcohol consumption as these can cause unpleasant mouth odors. Sugary foods are also linked to bad breath.

If bad breath persists, however, it is advisable to see your healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause.