Having bad breath can be an embarrassing situation, to say the least. Even though it happens to everyone at some point, it’s likely that no one actually wants to have bad breath. The medical term for bad breath is halitosis, and it can have many causes, ranging from diet to smoking to poor oral hygiene habits, according to Mayo Clinic. The good news is that there are solutions to many underlying causes of bad breath, so you don’t have to worry about breathing out smelly odors around others.
Dr. Sharda Patel, the head of Dental Oasis Family Dentistry in Pleasanton, CA, and a member of the American Dental Association, tells Health Digest in an interview that “Bad breath is a condition that negatively affects both your personal and professional life. Every individual must have experienced bad breath at least once in their life. Unfortunately, the majority of the time, it is somebody else who notices that you have bad breath before you can figure it out yourself.”
If you find yourself with a sour or metallic taste in your mouth, there’s a good chance you may be emitting bad breath. Dr. Patel says that ways to keep bad breath at bay include practicing good oral hygiene, scheduling regular dental checks every six months, and rinsing your mouth with water after eating.
Beyond the basics, there are signs and symptoms associated with bad breath-inducing conditions that you should know about in case you find yourself with halitosis. Here’s what you should know about conquering bad breath.
Cultivate good hygiene habits
Bad breath caused by foods you eat, like garlic, is generally temporary, says Dr. Patel. However, bad breath that doesn’t resolve may indicate that something else is going on in your mouth.
“If you are not brushing and flossing regularly or not using the correct methods, the bad bacteria in your mouth, which cause bad breath, increase in number and give you a foul breath. Therefore, brushing two times a day, and flossing once a day, especially during bedtime, is really essential to protect you from bad breath,” emphasizes Dr. Patel, who recommends using soft toothbrushes over hard ones, or electronic toothbrushes if you dislike manual options, and replacing your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every three months.
When it comes to flossing, Dr. Patel advises, “If you find it difficult to use floss strings, you can switch to a water flosser. Choose the method in which you find yourself comfortable but do not let these bad bacteria build up in your mouth.”
Oftentimes, an unhygienic tongue is the culprit. “Bad breath is produced by bacteria that produce sulfur in the mouth. These bacteria degrade proteins and form volatile sulfur compounds, which causes bad breath. So, even if you are brushing and flossing properly, you will get bad breath if you are not cleaning your tongue,” says Dr. Patel, who encourages using a tongue scraper to sufficiently clean your tongue, alongside regular brushing and flossing, to rid your mouth of as many halitosis-causing germs as possible.