Experiencing bad breath is a common part of life, but if you’re noticing constant bad breath, otherwise known as halitosis, your oral-care routine might need a refresh. Dentists say these three common causes may be the culprit.
The Cause: Your Tongue Is Not Clean
According to True Dental Care, about 85 percent of bad breath cases come from the mouth itself. “An observation I’ve made about oral hygiene in the Western world is that there is not enough emphasis places on having a clean tongue,” says Powell, OH cosmetic dentist Neal Patel, DDS,” who explains that forgetting this hygiene essential is a major kickstarter for bad breath.
“While many countries go back hundreds of years using tongue scrapers as part of their oral hygiene routine, the U.S. is just now catching on,” says Dr. Patel. He mentions the importance of brushing and flossing daily to maintain a healthy smile, and therefore clean breath, but he adds that most of the bacteria that induce bad breath stems from our tongues. “Using a tongue scraper is just as important as brushing and flossing in maintaining good oral health as well as fresh breath.”
The Cause: There’s a Lot of Bacteria
Rockville, MD cosmetic dentist Joe Kravitz, DDS points to “the presence of gram negative rods and spirochetes” as a main catalyst for halitosis. In layman’s terms, this means that there is bacteria in the mouth that are resistant to multiple drugs and most antibiotics, so they’re hard to kill off. “This bacteria, which lives underneath the gum tissues, produce a gas and tastes like trash,” he adds.
Dr. Kravitz says that dentists have the tools needed to rid most of this bacteria. “An easy remedy for halitosis is to visit your local dentist to have the bacteria professionally removed. Brushing with toothpaste and rinsing with a mouthwash also help to reduce the presence of bad breath.”
The Cause: You’re Constantly Wearing a Mask
Chevy Chase, MD cosmetic dentist Claudia Cotca, DDS says more and more of her patients have been complaining about halitosis, and she’s putting a lot of the blame on face masks. “The most recent factor of concern, which is unfortunately related to the recent COVID phase, is the expected increased incidence of bad breath,” she says. “This is due to increased mask use, which, in turn, increases hypoxia, a lack of oxygen that boosts bacterial production and compromises salivary flow, causing dry mouth and therefore bad breath.”
Because ditching the mask is not an option given our current climate, Dr. Cotca says that additional oral hygiene steps must be followed. “Increased oral-care frequency, adjunct rinses and dental treatments will be needed,” she explains. “Fresh breath is also co-dependent on other comorbidities, like gastric and stomach issues, lack of an easily-absorbed diet and medications, which contribute to their own side effects.”