Have you noticed people shying away from you as you speak? Do people have a strange tendency to offer you gum or mints on a regular basis, no matter how many times you tell them you dislike chewing gum and think the taste of peppermint was meant as a punishment?
These subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints may be your first warning signs that you may be imposing some bad breath on the conversation. While this may be a forgivable offense after recently partaking of a particularly spicy or garlicky meal, if you start to notice a pattern, then the problem may be a little more serious than you think.
What is Halitosis?
Halitosis is the fancy word for bad breath, but this particular odor can strike at almost any time. When it becomes a consistent problem, though, you might need to look into some kind of treatment.
Basically, this is a result of all that bacteria in your mouth, on your teeth, and on the back of the tongue getting together and causing problems. There are common times when you may notice it, such as in the morning, but it can also occur throughout the day, even if you haven’t had anything to eat.
Bad breath in the morning (morning breath) is very normal and not something to worry about. It’s just the result of less saliva in the mouth while you sleep. Normally, the saliva would wash away whatever is causing the smell, but at night, there just isn’t enough of it to handle the job.
There are, however, some other causes of halitosis that are a little more concerning. This could include:
- Mouth infections
- Respiratory tract infections
- Other mouth, throat, and nose conditions
- Dry mouth
- Other illnesses
How Do You Know It’s a Real Problem?
So now we know what it is and where it comes from, how do you know whether or not this is a real problem and not just the case of poor cuisine choices?
The truth is that this can be hard to diagnose on your own, because we simply grow accustomed to the smell of our own breath. The best thing you can do is ask yourself a few questions and evaluate your situation.
- How often do you notice people reacting to your close proximity?
- Is this an occasional or constant thing?
- How is your daily oral health routine?
- What kinds of food do you enjoy eating?
- Are you taking any medications?
- Do you breathe through your mouth more than your nose?
Treating the Problem
The simple answer to most halitosis problems is simply to maintain or improve your oral health routines. If the cause is something more than the garlic, though, we can help you figure out what it is and make sure it’s properly treated.
For example, if there is another health condition leading to the problem, we’ll be able to refer you to the proper care provider. If there is a dental disease contributing to the problem, such as periodontal disease, we’ll work with you to eliminate the problem.
There are plenty of things you can do on your own, of course. Brushing and flossing is, naturally, imperative, but you need to remember to brush your tongue, too. This is where a lot of bacteria are hanging out, so a good scrubbing can help clear that away.
You can also start to choose your foods with a little more care, and start drinking more water to avoid dry mouth. (Note, coffee, soft drinks, and alcohol don’t count since they can lead to an even drier mouth.) And, of course, you can chew some sugarless gum or suck on sugarless candy to stimulate saliva production, which will help to remove food particles and minimize bacteria.
Halitosis isn’t the worst dental concern, but it is potentially indicative of something worse. If you’re starting to sense people shying away from you in a close situation, it may be time to step up your dental hygiene and mention your concerns at your next appointment.