Whether it’s an issue with our own breath or that of the people around us, all of us have experienced the unpleasant effects of bad breath, otherwise known as halitosis. Halitosis can be caused by a number of factors—including smoking, gum disease, and certain medical conditions—but most of the time the issue is directly related to poor oral hygiene. This is because bad breath is caused by specific bacteria that grow inside the mouth. Without regular brushing, flossing, and cleanings, these bacteria thrive, producing foul odors that the halitosis sufferer may not even notice themselves. About 50% of adults suffer from halitosis at some point in their lives, so it’s important to be aware of your own dental habits and health.
If you are worried you might have bad breath, many people have suggested this test: lick your wrist and let the spit dry. Smell the spot you licked after a minute or two. If it is unpleasant, you are probably suffering from halitosis. This may be a little gross, but it’s better to know you have a bad breath problem and start taking steps to remedy it instead of living your life unaware of the issue.
What to Do
If you do have bad breath, the first thing you should do is evaluate your dental routine. Do you brush twice a day (this includes brushing your tongue!) and floss at least once a day? Do you get at least two check-ups and cleanings with your dentist each year? These are the first and easiest steps you can take to get your bad breath under control.
The next important step is to drink plenty of water. Having a dry mouth can result in halitosis, so it’s imperative to keep hydrated at all times. Along with this, eating healthy is just as vital as drinking healthy. Eating lots of sugary and unhealthy foods can contribute to bad breath.
If, after improving your dental habits, increasing the amount of water you drink, and adjusting your diet, you still seem to have bad breath, make an appointment with your dentist and ask for his or her advice. Halitosis can sometimes be a sign of larger health issues, so they may recommend that you see your primary care doctor for an assessment of your overall health.
Don’t Let Others Suffer
As a final note, be a pal. When you happen to notice that a close friend or family member has bad breath, let them know in a kind and discrete way. Wouldn’t you want someone to tell you if you had bad breath?