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» Understanding the Causes of Bad Breath

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From time to time everyone eventually suffers from bad breath. As one of life’s most common annoyances, bad breath can make almost any social encounter an awkward one if your breath carries the lingering aroma of a pickled liverwurst and onion sandwich for lunch. Fortunately, you can manage and eliminate bad breath if you know the causes behind your condition. To help you better identify what’s causing your breath to smell like a trash can on a warm summer’s day, here’s what you need to know.

The Causes of Bad Breath

Bad breath begins by what you place in your mouth. Garlic for lunch or a late morning latte may taste great, but they do have their consequences when it comes to how your breath smells the rest of the day.

The foods you consume throughout the day can linger regardless of how often you brush or how much mouthwash you use in an afternoon. Odorific foods like onions, garlic, sauerkraut, and cured meats enter your bloodstream as part of the digestion process where they travel to your lungs, causing you to breathe out their odors each time you exhale. Since these odors originate from your lungs, brushing, chewing gum, or using mouthwash can only mask the smell, not remove it entirely. Unfortunately, your breath will continue to remind everyone nearby what you had for lunch until the body fully digests the food.

The foods you eat can also negatively affect your breath in another way. Once you complete a meal, the food particles that remain lingering between your teeth, along the gum line, and under the tongue slowly release odors, which only get worse the more these food particles start to decay. Brushing, drinking plenty of water, or chewing sugar-free gum after meals can help to remove odorous food particles from your mouth, and keep your breath smelling its best.

Of course it’s not just what you eat and drink that can negatively impact your breath. Bad habits such as smoking can cause bad breath and so can good habits such as losing weight. When your body breaks down fat, the chemicals that process releases can give your breath an unpleasant aroma.

Freshening Your Breath

Once you understand the cause behind your bad breath, you can begin to make changes to your diet, oral hygiene, or personal habits that can help to correct the problem. While you can’t do much to prevent how some foods you eat alter your breath, you can take three easy steps to improve your oral hygiene and your breath.

  • Brush and floss daily. Not only will brushing at least twice a day and flossing help to remove lingering food particles from your mouth, these two oral hygiene habits can make a significant impact in protecting your oral health. If you don’t have the opportunity to brush immediately following a meal, make sure to at least rinse your mouth thoroughly with water.
  • Scrub your tongue. Your tongue can play host to a variety of bacteria that can cause foul smelling breath. To remove this bacteria, just give your tongue a through scrubbing after brushing.
  • Use a mouthwash. There are many nooks in the mouth that you can easily miss while brushing. Using an antibacterial mouthwash as part of your nightly oral hygiene routine can help to remove built up plaque from those hard to reach places in the mouth so your breath stays fresh.

Timothy Lemke is a freelance health writer. To read more of his work, visit the website of Dr. Derrik Stark, a dentist in Ridgefield.

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