What causes bad breath?
Bad breath, or halitosis, can be a major problem. The good news is that bad breath can often be prevented with some simple steps.
Bad breath is caused by odor-producing bacteria that grow in the mouth. When you don’t brush and floss regularly, bacteria accumulate between your teeth and on your tongue. The sulfur compounds released by these bacteria make your breath smell.
Certain foods, especially garlic and onions, contain pungent oils that can contribute to bad breath because the oils are carried to your lungs and out through your mouth. Smoking is also a major cause of bad breath.
There are lots of myths about taking care of bad breath. Here are three things you may have heard about bad breath that are not true:
Myth #1: Mouthwash will make bad breath go away.
Mouthwash only gets rid of bad breath temporarily. If you do use mouthwash, look for an antiseptic (kills the germs that cause bad breath) and plaque-reducing one with a seal from the American Dental Association (ADA).
Myth #2: As long as you brush your teeth, you shouldn’t have bad breath.
The truth is that most people only brush their teeth for 30-to-45 seconds, which just doesn’t cut it. To sufficiently clean all the surfaces of your teeth, you should brush for at least 2 minutes at least twice a day. Remember to brush your tongue too, bacteria love to hang out there. Its equally important to floss because brushing alone won’t remove harmful plaque and food particles that become stuck between your teeth and gums.
If you’re concerned about bad breath, make sure you’re taking care of your teeth and mouth properly. Some sugar-free gums and mints can temporarily mask odors, too.
If you brush and floss properly and visit your dentist for regular cleanings, but your bad breath persists, you may have a medical problem like sinusitis or gum disease. Call your doctor or dentist if you suspect a problem.