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Bad breath – or, as your dentist might say, “halitosis” – is something we all experience from time to time. Certain types of foods, dry mouth, even a cold or allergies can all temporarily make your breath smell less than fresh.  

Persistent bad breath is cause for concern, though, as it can be caused by health issues inside and outside of the mouth. Tooth infections and gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis are typically associated with bad breath. Respiratory infections and gastrointestinal diseases, as well as certain long-term medical conditions, may also be responsible for a small number of cases of bad breath.  

Good Breath Starts With Regular Dentist Visits 

It’s estimated that about 25 percent of people worldwide have chronically bad breath. If you have persistent bad breath that regularly defeats mouthwashes and mints and is seemingly unimpressed by toothpaste and brushing, you need to get professional help. Make an appointment with your dentist. Usually, your dentist will be able to identify the cause of the problem and develop a treatment plan.  

Most often, bad breath is due to gasses released by bacteria that coats your teeth, gums, and tongue. If it’s been a while since you had your teeth professionally cleaned, your treatment plan will almost certainly include time with a dental hygienist. During a routine cleaning, the hygienist uses a scaler (a small metal instrument) to scrape off tartar above and below the gum line. He or she may also use an ultrasonic vibrating device to shake loose plaque and tartar. The areas between your teeth will also be cleaned, and your teeth polished with a gently abrasive paste. Not only do your teeth look smooth and shiny, but the now-slippery surface also makes it a little harder for odorous, bacteria-laden plaque to build up on your teeth. 

Your dentist may want you to have a deep cleaning. This treatment includes everything involved in a routine cleaning but also incorporates procedures called tooth scaling and root planning to remove plaque and tartar from the roots of your teeth and smooth out any rough spots where bacteria love to hide and breed. During the treatment an antimicrobial medication may be placed below your gum line to kill bacteria. A deep cleaning often takes an hour or two per session, with three or four sessions typically required. A local anesthetic or numbing gel will be applied before the treatment begins for your comfort. Your teeth and gums will likely be very sensitive for a few days following treatment. 

How to Have Good Breath All Day 

Along with regular dental care, here’s what else you can do to keep your breath fresh: 

Step up your oral hygiene - Brushing morning and night and flossing daily are essential. Along with keeping bacteria in check, brushing also clears food debris from your mouth, which will otherwise rot and release an unpleasant odor. This can become a big problem if your teeth are cracked, have cavities, or have missing teeth – all of these situations provide plenty of places for food bits to hide.  

Clean your tongue - Another popular hangout for bacteria is your tongue. It’s a good idea to invest a few dollars in a tongue scraper to remove any built-up bacteria or gently brush your tongue with your regular toothbrush. If you have any cracked fillings, bacteria and debris can get caught in the crevices, resulting in a foul odor. Also, keep in mind that no matter how thorough your at-home oral care routine is, you still need to visit a dentist for routine cleanings and exams. 

Dry mouth - When your mouth produces less saliva, bacteria builds up which leads to bad breath. Dry mouth can be caused by many things, including age, dehydration, anxiety, breathing through your mouth because of nasal congestion, and taking any of the more than 500 medications that decrease salivary gland production. Salvia is important for digestion and oral health. Therapeutic mouth rinses, sugarless gum and other remedies can help, ask your dentist what they recommend.  

Garlic and onions - When garlic and onions are digested, they are absorbed into the bloodstream and expelled through the lungs and pores. That’s why even if you brush or gargle with mouthwash after eating garlic and onions, you can’t fully get rid of the odor. It can take up to 72 hours for some scent-heavy foods to leave your system entirely, so if you have an important meeting or big date coming up, skip the strong-smelling foods for a few days just to be sure.  

Other foods - Citrus fruits and drinks create an acidic environment in your mouth that bacteria love. A very high-protein diet can result in an ammonia smell as the body works to digest all that protein. Canned fish has a compound called trimethylamines, which can emit an odor. Cheese, and most dairy foods, contain amino acids that can sour your breath. Sticky foods, like peanut butter, tend to linger on your teeth and scent your breath (or become a breeding ground for bacteria). Coffee and alcoholic beverages can cause dry mouth. The best remedy for all of these? Rinse your mouth with plain water (or sugarless mint tea), floss if you can, maybe chew some sugar-free gum, and then brush an hour after consuming the food. Waiting a bit lets your dental enamel harden again, it can temporarily soften from acidic foods and drinks.  

Tobacco - Whether it’s from cigarettes, pipes, cigars, or dip, tobacco leaves a strong odor behind. Plus, tobacco is linked to gum disease, which is another source of bad breath, as mentioned earlier. And vaping can really dry out your mouth. 

Save on dental care for bad breath 

Bad breath can certainly take a toll on your self-confidence and interactions with others, but once you express your concerns to your dentist, you can work together to create a plan of action to keep your mouth healthy and feeling fresh. If you’ve been putting off getting dental care for economic reasons, consider joining a dental savings plan. These plans are an affordable alternative to dental insurance that can save plan members 10-60% on most dental procedures, including preventive, restorative, and cosmetic dental care. If you’d like to learn more about how dental savings plans work, you can reach out to us at 1-833-735-0399.  

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Dentists recommend 2 cleanings, 2 check-ups and 1 set of x-rays per year. We're so confident that your plan will pay for itself*, we will refund your money if it doesn't.
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