Ever had a face-to-face conversation with someone who has “dragon breath?” Yeah, it’s not very fun — especially if you can’t get away from it. Bad breath is the worst. And unlike body odor, it’s often hard or impossible to tell that you have it, even if everyone else within a 50-foot vicinity is well aware. The polite thing to do is to tell someone they have bad breath, because it’s usually not intentional on their part and they probably don’t even know it’s happening.
While there are a lot of ways to remedy nasty breath, sometimes they are only short-term solutions, and there may actually be a deeper reason why it keeps coming back. At Prince Williams Family Dental, we’re all too familiar with the perils of bad breath, especially since it’s quite often caused by dental issues. So in this post, we’re going to look at some of the causes of stinky breath — and what you can do to prevent them.
WHY YOUR BREATH STINKS
YOU DIDN’T BRUSH YOUR TEETH
This is one of the simplest reasons for nasty breath, and one of the easiest to remedy. There are many reasons to brush your teeth, and dental health is only one of them — a good teeth-brushing session also has the pleasant side effect of giving you lovely breath.
But if you don’t know why your breath is so gross without brushing, we’ll break it down. In a nutshell, your mouth is always working on breaking down the residue of food and chemicals on your teeth, even if it’s at a microbial level. One of the ways it does this is by producing bacteria, which slowly breaks down the food particles. Due to various scientific reasons that would be boring to describe here, this can result in an unpleasant smell.
Long story short, brushing gets rid of those food particles, meaning there’s less bacteria wreaking havoc on your breath. Brush your teeth, folks!
YOU’RE A MOUTH BREATHER
Eleven from Stranger Things fame may have resurrected the term “mouth breather” from the 80s as a savage insult, but in this case, don’t take it personally. Sometimes, you’re a mouth breather just because, well, you’re breathing through your mouth. There’s nothing inherently wrong with mouth breathing, and it can sometimes be better than using your nose, such as when you’re exercising.
But, as much as we hate to be the bearer of bad news, you’re not doing your breath any favors when you mouth-breathe. Why? Because it causes your saliva to evaporate more quickly. While our bodies are always producing more saliva, you can disturb the natural status quo of your mouth if you’re constantly breathing through an open mouth.
This is important because saliva is also a key component in preventing bad breath. We established above that leftover food particles are the cause of natural bad breath, and saliva helps to wash those away. When there’s not much of it to go around, your mouth will become drier, and the bacteria will thrive. Yuck!
IT’S YOUR MEDICATION’S FAULT
You can’t always blame your problems on your medication, but in the case of bad breath, you might just have a solid case. There are all kinds of medications that can cause your breath to go stinky, but the root cause is almost always the same — dry mouth. For the reasons we listed above, a dry mouth often leads to bad breath due to the lack of saliva.
If your breath has been particularly rancid lately, it might be worth looking up the side effects of your go-to medications. If dry mouth is one of them, you’ve found your culprit. Adderall is commonly known to cause dry breath, and it may also occur with various antihistamines or muscle relaxants. Whether it’s over-the-counter or prescription, it’s good to check the side effects of any medication you’re regularly taking.
IT’S SOMETHING YOU ATE
This is also one of the more common reasons for bad breath, though it carries a bit of a different “brand” than natural bad breath, which is often referred to as halitosis. Some foods are just plain stinky, and they can significantly reduce the loveliness of your breath in a matter of seconds. Common offenders are onions and garlics, but anything you eat could come back to haunt you.
When stinky breath is caused by food, it’s usually pretty easy to deal with. It typically goes away on its own within an hour or two, but counteracting it with breath mints or teeth-brushing are more immediate solutions. Sometimes, bad breath from food is simply unavoidable, because it’s quite often caused by the air that’s being regurgitated from within — in other words, burping. While your food is being digested, you’re potentially liable to getting little reminders from your stomach of what you ate. Yummy.
YOU’RE NOT EATING AT ALL
“I can’t get bad breath from food if I don’t eat at all, right?” Hold your horses, you deep thinker, because we’re about to shatter your worldview. While your breath should theoretically be better during an abstinence from food, it doesn’t really work out that way. Your body produces saliva correlational to the amount of food you eat, so when you go for long periods without a meal, you’ll find yourself with dry mouth.
Bad breath is primarily caused by the breaking down of food particles, and it’s easy to think there won’t be very much food to break down if you’re not eating — but think again. Food particles often exist at a microbial level, so even when you’re skipping meals, there will almost always be something in your mouth for bacteria to work on.
YOU’VE GOT CAVITIES
Despite being the hardest, most durable parts of our bodies, your teeth can only take so much punishment, and they’re particularly weak to sugar, which works like an insidious acid to wear down your pearly whites. If you let enough sugar and plaque build up without regular brushing, you can bet you’ll start seeing some tooth decay. If you let this go for long enough, it’ll eventually result in cavities — little spots where plaque has dug in deeply, compromising the health of your tooth. In severe cases, cavities can cause tooth pain and result in more serious damage, so it’s best to get them filled at your nearby dentist ASAP.
But in the meantime, brush extra hard if you suspect you might have a cavity, because they often exacerbate the effects of stinky breath. The reason for this goes back to the same reason behind most of the items on this list — a buildup of food, resulting in bacteria. Cavities often result in food getting lodged in your teeth easier, requiring more vigorous brushing than usual to remove it. This, of course, is hard to notice for the average person, because cavities and food particles can be tiny to the point of being unnoticeable.
YOUR BRUSHING HABITS NEED WORK
Finally, sometimes just brushing your teeth isn’t enough. It’s not like rubbing a toothbrush around for five seconds is going to magically solve your problems — there’s a technique to good brushing, and if you’re not doing it right, you may be leaving areas of your mouth untouched, which could cause bad breath even after your morning and evening brushing.
The importance of flossing also cannot be understated. Did you know that flossing covers 40-60% of food particles in your mouth? There is so much gunk that can be caught between your teeth, and nine times out of ten, regular brushing isn’t enough to cover it. Forget about the bad breath — you should be brushing and flossing no matter who you are, due to the various oral health benefits.
FAMILY DENTISTRY IN WOODBRIDGE AND DUMFRIES
While bad breath can sometimes be solved on your own terms, it never hurts to get a dental checkup, and that’s exactly what we do for the people of Woodbridge and Dumfries. It’s important to know what’s going on inside of your mouth, and truth be told, there are plenty of things that can cause bad breath that we haven’t even listed here. Knowledge is power, and when you let problems in your mouth go untreated for long periods of time, they can grow to become much worse than they would have been otherwise.
At Prince William Family Dental, we have services to cover all your needs. Whether you’re looking for regular checkups, cosmetic dentistry, orthodontic work, or 24-hour emergency dental services, we’re here to help. Contact us today