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There are many reasons your breath may smell bad, including the food and medications you consume. Following is a breakdown of some of the things that can cause chronic bad breath, or halitosis, and what you can do to help prevent this condition.

Do you smoke?
If you smoke tobacco, it can leave a lingering aftertaste in the mouth, particularly if you have gum disease which is a common condition in smokers and also contributes to bad breath.

What are you eating?
When you eat food, it breaks down and increases the bacteria in the mouth which contributes to smelly breath. Eating pungent foods, such as onions, garlic, spices, can all make your breath smell. Even after you digest these foods, they enter your bloodstream and head to your lungs where they affect how your breath smells. If you drink lots of coffee it can leave a strong residue on the back of the tongue. And diets such as extreme fasting and very low-carb diets are notorious for making the breath smell bad.

Are you practicing good oral hygiene?
Brushing and flossing twice a day is vital. If you don’t take the time to clean your teeth and gums, food particles remain in your mouth that can make your breath smell. If the colorless, sticky bacterial film known as plaque is allowed to stay on your teeth and gums, it traps bacteria and causes odors. Your tongue can also harbor bacteria which affects your breath.

Do you have dry mouth?
Saliva does may things, including cleaning your mouth. If your saliva production is down and you have dry mouth your breath will smell. Dry mouth happens every time you sleep, which is why you wake up with “morning breath”. Dry mouth can also be caused by lack of hydration, consuming alcohol, and taking certain medications that act as diuretics.

Do you have an infection?
If you have canker sores, or sores in the mouth, tooth decay, gum disease, or recent oral surgery contributes to bad breath. Additional medical conditions that can make your breath smell include sinus infections, post nasal drip, diseases like cancer and metabolic disorders including acid reflux.

What can you do?
To make your breath smell good again, there are things you can do that help. You can snack on raw apple slices, celery, or carrots which help clear your mouth of debris, and avoid eating garlic and onions. Hydration is important, so drink plenty of water and avoid diuretics to keep up saliva production. It is vital to brush and floss twice daily, and be sure to clean your tongue as well. Using an antiseptic mouthwash will fight bad breath while reducing bacteria. Consider a smoking cessation program and limit your consumption of alcohol. In between meals you can chew sugarless gum to stimulate saliva production and make your breath smell fresh. Last but not least, have a professional dental cleaning every six months to remove calculus and rule out gum disease.

Dr. Holly Krystek and her dental team are here to help keep you smiling. If you have any questions or would like to be seen, please call the Lifetime Dentistry staff at 563-263-9082 today!