Bad breath is a big problem for many and is still a big taboo in most places. It is a pity that bad breath is so hard to talk about, because it is not very hard to do something about. This article will deal with two questions concerning bad breath: Why do people have bad breath and what can be done about it?
Why do I have bad breath?
Many people are convinced that their bad breath comes from their stomach, but recent research has proved that most cases of bad breath are caused by germs on the surface of the tongue. In fact, it is estimated that germs on the tongue account for as much as 90% of all cases of bad breath. Simply put, the germs release gases that cause the bad smell. If you examine your own tongue in the mirror you will discover that it’s surface is actually very rough. Especially the area near the root of your tongue is a perfect breeding ground for the germs that cause bad breath.
Another connection between germs and bad breath is that germs can build up as plaque and eventually cause gum disease (periodontitis) and cavities. Plaque in itself can cause bad breath, but especially periodontitis and cavities can cause a very bad smell from the mouth because of the kind of germs that live in cavities and deep periodontal pockets.
Tonsil stones (or tonsilloliths) are yet another reason why some people suffer from bad breath. Tonsil stones are whitish/yellow little lumps that sometimes accumulate in the small pits on the surface of your tonsils. The lumps consist of sulfur-producing bacteria and debris from your mouth and nose and they can both taste and smell bad.
What can be done about bad breath?
If your bad breath is caused by plaque, you will need to work harder on your dental hygiene. Maybe you already brush your teeth at least twice a day or even more often – but are you thorough enough? Do you make sure to brush every surface of all your teeth (even the difficult-to-reach ones in the back of your mouth) or do you tend to brush the same few teeth every time?
If your bad breath is caused by cavities or periodontitis you will need to see your dentist for treatment. These problems cannot be solved by improving your oral hygiene alone. Your dentist or dental hygienist will probably also advise you on how to maintain a high standard of oral hygiene and how to avoid bad breath in the future. You can talk openly to your dentist or dental hygienist about your bad breath. It is their profession to deal with these things and there are no taboos in the dental clinic.
If your teeth are already healthy and your dental hygiene is good but you still suffer from bad breath, you might need to start cleaning your tongue as well. Your tongue can be cleaned by brushing it with your toothbrush. If brushing your tongue with your toothbrush makes you gag, you could try to use a tongue scraper which is especially designed for cleaning the tongue and treating bad breath.
If you see little white lumps or tonsil stones on your tonsils and you think they are the cause of your bad breath, you might be able to squeeze them out by pressing a finger or a Q-tip against the bottom of the tonsil and pushing upward. If your gag reflex prevents you from sticking fingers or Q-tips in your throat, the tonsil stones might be removed if you simply flex your throat and swallow. If you are not successful at any of these methods, your dentist can help you.
Hopefully the advice in this article can help you do something about your bad breath. Do not accept bad breath as part of your life. It might be a sign that something is wrong or – to look on the bright side – it might be a surprisingly easy problem to solve!