There’s nothing worse than the thought that you may have bad breath (halitosis). It can happen after eating a particularly garlicky meal, or something heavy in raw onion. It can happen on a warm day when your mouth dries out and starts to taste foul, and it can also strike when you have a cold and have to breathe through your mouth.
Whatever the cause, it precipitates a lot of social embarrassment and the need to cover your mouth when talking. The most annoying thing is that it’s almost impossible to tell how bad the issue is.
So, here are a few tips for diagnosing your own problem and addressing it if need be.
Get A Trusted Confidante
The easiest way to check the odour of your breath is to ask a close friend or colleague to conduct a sniff test. You want someone that will be honest with you, so just give a little puff and see what they say.
You can also ask them to check the colour of your tongue. If they notice a white coating, this could be a sign that you have a bacteria problem.
The next step is to go and see a dentist. They will be able to conduct the best sniff test and check for signs of bacteria or any other problems that could create halitosis. They will also be able to develop a specific treatment for your needs.
The Self-Sniff Test
If you can’t find a trustworthy candidate, or you need the test done quickly, you can do it yourself. Just lick the back of your wrist, let it dry for a second and then smell the spot. Another test is to floss between your back teeth and smell the floss. If you have a tongue scraper, scrape your tongue and have a smell.
All of these tests will give you a fair idea of what everyone else is smelling.
Trust Your Taste Buds
If you can taste something terrible, chances are your breath will also smell bad. This is particularly true if you’ve eaten something pungent. It can also be true if you’re suffering from dehydration or dry mouth in which your saliva becomes foamy and changes flavour. A stale taste in your mouth is also a sign of bad breath.
If you notice any of these tastes, swill your mouth with water. This will remove any smelly debris and kickstart saliva production – saliva is essential in neutralising bacteria and therefore, odour.
How to Stop Worrying About Your Breath
If you want to neutralise bad breath, there are several things you can do:
- Brush twice a day, once before eating and once after your last meal of the day
- Floss at least daily to remove bacteria and debris from between teeth
- Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated
- Use ADA-approved mouthwash
- Avoid pungent foods in social situations
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year for a hygienist appointment, including a scale and clean to completely rid your mouth of bacteria
Visiting your dentist is also essential for eliminating any other causes of halitosis, such as digestive issues.
Bad breath can induce extreme social embarrassment. If it persists, it can cause complete social withdrawal. But, it is a problem you can solve. Like all health issues, it’s all about identifying the problem and stopping it at its cause.
So, if you’ve lived your life with poor oral hygiene habits, this is the perfect time to start looking after your oral health. If you’ve been neglecting trips to the dentist, this is the motivation you need to make it a regular occurrence.
Your overall health will also impact your breath. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to halitosis. Smoking, in particular, makes it hard to keep your breath fresh. It’s not just the odour from the cigarette itself, but the smell of nicotine trapped in your lungs that is emitted every time you speak or breathe.
Excessive alcohol consumption weakens gums and opens them up to infection. Bad breath is a common warning sign of gum disease.
You are in control of your health. If you follow a healthy lifestyle, you can limit incidences of bad breath to special occasions when you indulge in aglio e oglio.