Bad Breath: What Causes It And How You Can Help Fix It!
Have you noticed you seem to have bad breath when you are wearing a mask? You are not alone! With the air staying so close to your face, it is not surprising so many people have noticed it. There are many reasons for not-so-pleasant breath- read below on what some of them are, and what you can do about them!
We will start with the first thing people think of when they think of bad breath- food! Foods such as garlic and onions can cause bad breath, and not only as you eat them. Their odors can be absorbed into the bloodstream and exhaled through the lungs as they are digested. Diets high in protein and sugar can also be associated with bad breath because of your body releasing the byproducts of digestion through your lungs.
Tobacco can leave an odor in your mouth, and on your entire body. It can dry out your mouth, which just makes the problem worse (see below in Dry Mouth)! Tobacco can also increase your risk for gum disease, bone loss, and certain cancers. If you are interested in quitting (or even if you are not sure, but want more information), Missouri has great resources at the Missouri Quitline!
Check out their fact sheet: https://health.mo.gov/living/wellness/tobacco/smokingandtobacco/pdf/QuitlineFactSheet2.pdf
Call for more information: 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)
Register online: www.quitnow.net/missouri
3) Dental Concerns
We will break dental concerns into two categories: Bacteria and Dry Mouth. Both of these can separately, or together, be a source of bad breath.
Even when you are working from home, you still need to keep your teeth and mouth clean. Remember to brush twice per day for 2 minutes each time, and floss once per day to remove bacteria that can cause bad breath. You may also need to brush your tongue (or use a tongue scraper), and use mouthwash to help get rid of bacteria in other areas of your mouth. If you have periodontal (gum) disease, or it has been a while since you have been to the dentist, brushing and flossing alone may not be able to get rid of all of the bacteria and hard calculus (tartar) on your teeth. The American Dental Association has stated that dentistry is “essential healthcare” and visiting the dentist is safe at this time due to the increase in PPE (https://www.ada.org/en/press-room/news-releases/2020-archives/august/american-dental-association-dentistry-is-essential-health-care). Give us a call (636-283-2288) if you have questions about what we are doing to keep our patients, ourselves, and our community safe while still providing dental services to keep your mouth healthy.
Having a dry mouth can cause little bits of food to remain on your teeth. Even if you are brushing and flossing every day, those bits of food can add to bad breath during the day. Dry mouth can be caused by a number of factors, including medications and smoking. You can help combat this cause of bad breath by drinking water throughout the day, brushing after eating and using products designed for dry mouth. Additionally, you can try sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva flow. As a bonus, some of the sugar-free gum varieties contain xylitol, which helps decrease your chance for cavities!
4) Health Concerns
Allergies and post-nasal drip are very common in our area, especially as different plants are blooming. The mucous moving from the sinuses down the throat can give bacteria food, which can cause bad breath. Saline rinses, and other medications to keep allergies under control, can help with this cause of bad breath.
Acid reflux can not only cause bad breath but can also cause erosion on your teeth. This erosion can make them more likely to get cavities and can make them more sensitive to cold or sweets. Taking medications to help relieve acid reflux, or see your primary care doctor for other treatment options, to help with this cause of bad breath.
Diabetes can lead to high sugar levels in your saliva. The bacteria in your mouth can then feed on this sugar, causing bad odors. The bacteria can also potentially cause more tooth decay (cavities), gum disease, and loss of the bone that supports the teeth. This can lead to other causes of bad breath (see above for dental concerns). The good news is that with regular visits to your dentist and your doctor, we can work with you to keep your mouth clean and your blood sugar numbers stable.
5) Your Mask Itself!
It is also important to make sure your mask is washed regularly to avoid any lingering scents. Bacteria can build up in the fabric and cause an odor. It can also pick up odors from the environment that you do not want to be carrying around with you. It is recommended to wash your mask daily.
As you can see, there are many causes for the bad breath you may have noticed. And you are not alone in having bad breath! Sometimes, brushing and flossing alone is not enough. There are so many other reasons you may notice bad breath, and there can be areas under the gum tissue that bacteria can hide. These are areas that you cannot reach at home with your toothbrush and floss. There can also be underlying infections causing bad breath or bad taste. Has it been a while since you have been to the dentist? Don’t worry! Call us today ((636) 242-6450), mention this blog post, and ask about our new patient special for a consultation to get you back on track with oral health!