If you’re old enough to remember Seinfeld, you may remember this little gem:
A “close talker” can be an unpleasant experience. Add some halitosis and it can be downright traumatic. And the anxiety of being the one causing trauma can be even worse. The general perception about bad breath is that it is all about brushing and flossing habits. Those certainly play a big part, but there are other ways bad breath can breed. Halitosis is the term for chronic bad breath, and the root of the problem can run pretty deep. Here are a few things to explore if you (or someone you plan to send this to anonymously) are struggling with bad breath.
The Bad Guys
We will start with the obvious enemies. Tobacco has its own smell that affects the breath in powerful ways. It can also increase the chances of gum disease, which can cause foul breath as well.
Coffee and Alcohol
These might also seem obvious because of the smell they can leave on the breath, but they have other ways of spoiling breath. They create an ideal environment for bacteria growth and have a drying effect. Saliva is your mouth’s first defense against bacteria, so a dry mouth is a breeding ground for smelly germs. Giving these things up for the sake of your breath might feel extreme, so consider limiting them or making sure to pair them with plenty of water. Water is a fantastic rinsing agent!
This one is mostly anecdotal. The research isn’t quite clear, but there does seem to be a link between bad breath and dairy. This probably goes back to the sugar thing. Dairy has lots of natural sugars in it, and while they are natural, they are still sugar. And sugar makes bacteria happy. Happy bacteria can mean bad breath. If you are struggling with bad breath and feel like all the brushing, gum, and mouthwash aren’t helping, you could try cutting out dairy and see what happens.
Speaking of Sugar
Breaking news: Sugar is bad for you. You don’t have to come here to know that. It lowers the strength of your immune system, plays with your blood sugar levels, and can cause cavities. It can also make your breath smell bad. One of the most common sources of sugars in our society comes by way of soda. Soda is packed with sugar, and swigging it regularly not only leaves sugar in your mouth but in your guts. And if icky bacteria start to grow in the gut, it will also show up in your breath. Drinking plenty of water will help rinse the sugar from your mouth, but the best way to avoid the bad breath is to cut down on your soda. Again, water is your body’s friend and your teeth love it, too!
Enough of the doom and gloom, what will help your breath smell better? There are plenty of good things out there that will freshen your breath and strengthen your teeth.
Yep, water again. Hydration is happiness. Water makes our whole bodies work better, even our mouths. Water rinses away food particles and rehydrates the mouth so saliva can do its work. Find ways to make water work for you! Buy a water bottle that you love, use an app to remind you, try some fruity water infusers, make yourself a sticker chart–whatever works! Just drink water.
Sugarless gum is a great ally in the war on bacteria and bad breath. Chewing gum is a great way to loosen food particles and send them on their merry way to the stomach, rather than having them lodged between your teeth, stinking up the joint. It also promotes saliva, nature’s washing machine. Most sugarless gums are sweetened with xylitol, which has an added boost of inhibiting mouth bacteria. Plus, gum freshens your breath.
Fresh Fruits and Veggies
Again, this is probably about as surprising as the sugar revelation: Fruits and vegetables are good for you. They really are. They are chock full of antioxidants and vitamins. They help to balance your blood sugar and the bacteria in your guts, especially the vegetables. Foods high in vitamin C, such as bell peppers, create an environment that bacteria don’t like much, which is good for you. Send those little guys packing! Eating crunchy, raw fruits and vegetables is also a great way to “brush” your teeth between meals. They provide some great friction to clear out gunk hanging on to your teeth. Chow down on that salad and veggie tray!
I know what you’re doing right now. You are scrolling back up and thinking, “Wait a minute, didn’t I just read that dairy is bad for your breath?” Yes, you did read that. And too much dairy can have that effect. But yogurt is a different kind of dairy. Plain yogurt has streptococci and lactobacilli bacteria. Just three ounces a day can help balance the lively microbiome of bacteria in your gut, and this can eliminate the smells that the wrong balance of bacteria can create. Skip the sugary stuff and add some fruit instead. Your mouth and digestive tract will thank you!
We all want to feel confident with our smiles and our breath. If you make some of these changes, brush and floss regularly, and still battle halitosis, then there might be some deeper underlying medical causes and a visit with the dentist might be a good idea.
Getting regular checkups at the dentist is a great way to stay on top of any warning signs. We are here in Weber County to help you stay healthy and confident in your smile. Then, you can talk as closely as you want. We won’t judge. After all, we get pretty close to your mouth anyway!