Many people think bad breath comes from the stomach. The reality is, bad breath is usually caused by conditions in your mouth, such as the food you eat, and how often you clean your teeth, gums and tongue.
Tips to ensure bad breath doesn’t spoil the moment:
- Floss and brush your teeth, gums and tongue daily. Clean as far back on your tongue as you can, as that’s where bacteria often collect. If you don’t clean your mouth, any remaining food particles will attract bacteria, which cause bad breath and contribute to tooth decay.
- Brush and floss your teeth after eating, if you possibly can. If you can’t do a thorough cleaning, drinking water or chewing sugar-free gum are good options.
- Be aware that certain foods — such as garlic, onions and some spices — can contribute to bad breath for up to 72 hours after eating. After digestion, the proteins in these foods circulate in the bloodstream. They are carried into the lungs and are expelled in your breath until they exit your system.
- Cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco can cause dry mouth and bad breath — on top of being harmful to your overall health. Ask your dentist for help with smoking cessation.
- Bad breath can also be an early symptom of periodontal or gum disease. Gum disease is an infection that affects the gums and jawbone, which can lead to a loss of gum and teeth. If left alone, the bacteria will build up on your teeth and irritate the gums. Flossing helps removes food particles from between the teeth and under the gum line. Be sure to also visit your dentist for periodic cleanings and checkups.
- Dry mouth leads to bad breath. Saliva inhibits the growth of bacteria that contribute to bad breath by cleansing the mouth and removing odor-causing food particles. Dry mouth is also caused by some medications, alcohol and breathing with your mouth open. Drink plenty of water or chew sugar-free gum or candy to keep your mouth moist.
- If bad breath persists, talk to your dentist. It could be a symptom of certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, or infections of the mouth, nose and throat.