Bad breath is like a broken tail light on your car: You don’t know it’s there until someone embarrassingly points it out. And both require fast action. The problem: Gum usually just masks the scent of a smelly mouth. You have to find the culprit—which is sometimes easier said than done. Gingivitis (a.k.a. gum disease) is a common cause, says Tina Giannacopoulos, a dentist at Boston Dental. (If you have it, you’ll likely notice bleeding and inflamed or receding gums.) That not the issue? Don’t overlook these seven other possible reasons why you have dragon breath.
1. You’re Taking Certain Drugs
“Medications for high blood pressure, antidepressants, and antihistamines can have side effects of xerostomia or dry mouth,” says Giannacopoulos. “This can lead to bad breath, as saliva is necessary to wash away food particles from the oral cavity.” You see, saliva keeps your mouth moist, neutralizes acids, and washes away dead cells that build up (ew, but necessary). A lack of it means food particles, cells, and bacteria accumulate and stink up the joint. If you’re on a med that’s drying you out, drink tons of water and chew gum with xylitol in it, which can help add moisture, Giannacopoulos says.
2. You’re Hungry
So busy you skipped lunch? Well, thanks to that lovely lack of saliva that can come about from a dearth of food, you may pay for your oversight with foul-smelling breath (and getting seriously hangry).
3. You’ve Got a Mouth Infection
Mouth infections mean loads of bacteria, which—when they decompose—can release odors of sulfur, says Giannacopoulos. If you think you could have an infection like pericoronitis, which is inflammation of the soft tissue around the crown of a tooth, it’s time to clean up your oral hygiene habits and see your dentist.
4. You’re Brushing and Flossing All Wrong
Truth: Most of us are brushing and flossing completely incorrectly—and this causes food particles to build up, says Giannacopoulos. “Trapped food particles accelerate the growth of bacteria and cause inflammation, leading to bad breath,” she says. A quick brush-up on brushing: “Hold the brush horizontally against your teeth and tilt it at a 45-degree angle,” says Giannacopoulos. “Move the toothbrush in short horizontal strokes.” You should do this twice a day for two minutes each time. As for flossing? “Gentle and thorough are key words,” says Giannacopoulos. The floss should go slightly under your gum line and hug each tooth. “Brushing alone misses almost half of the tooth surfaces, so flossing is also a must,” she says.
6. You Haven’t Had Your Wisdom Teeth Removed
Holding on to your wisdom teeth? These teeth and the operculum—the piece of gum over wisdom teeth that are growing in—can trap food and bacteria and become infected, which can contribute to stinky breath, says Giannacopoulos. It’s best to ask your dentist if you need yours out. And if you think you have an infection, you could need antibiotics.
7. You Have a Cavity
Here’s a good case for keeping a date with your dentist every six months: “Sometimes untreated cavities can cause sensitivity and pain; however, sometimes they can go unnoticed,” says Giannacopoulos. And if you have one, you might give off some stink. “Bacteria essentially eats away at tooth structure and release odors,” she says. So stay up to date on your cleanings—clinical dental exams and X-rays can ID cavities.
From seeing the spooky forceps and needles to even smelling dental compounds, 5-8% of patients refuse to seek dental care all together and 20% of patients will only go to the dentist when necessary.
I think I have odontophobia. What can I do to prevent panic during visits?
Easier said than done - practice positive self-talk! Tell yourself “YOU CAN DO IT!”
Make sure to remind yourself “everything WILL be okay.” Your dentist is a professional and is someone you can trust.
Don’t be nervous - speak up to your dentist. Let him/her know when you’re having a rough time. Listening to your concerns face-to-face helps both sides - you and your dentist. Your dentist can help make an ideal and reasonable commitment that makes you feel comfortable because dental health is SO important! Knowledge is power!
Download your favorite podcast, album, or playlist before heading to the office. Distract your thoughts and link the experience to something you ENJOY.
Don’t forget headphones! Your dentist will not be upset if you put your headphones in to distract your thoughts.
Take deep breaths! Think about pleasant experiences in your life to stay calm.
Here at Fabulous Smiles, we have a therapy dog named Bailey that will ease any panic you might have.
You never outgrow your smile!
Make sure your selfies and Holiday pics show you with healthy White Teeth! As October approaches, let's plan for the end of year checkup and benefits review. Accepting new patients, Delta Dental preferred providers. Other plans accepted, Call today for details and to set up an appointment.