What You Didn’t Know About Bad Breath

Bad breath can be a sensitive topic, especially if you’re trying to convince a partner or a close friend that they need to seek help for this issue. This TEDTalk video breaks down this stinky subject into a lighthearted informational piece that explains not only the cause of bad breath (or halitosis), but also how it has been addressed throughout time.  

 What did people do in olden times for bad breath?

Halitosis is the clinical term for chronic bad breath. Unlike after eating a garlic-intense meal or something with onions (when you can rid the bad taste from your mouth with a mint or by brushing your teeth), halitosis can’t be cured that easily. But this isn’t a new issue that has suddenly cropped up—there are even writings that show the ancient Greeks tried to cure their bad breath with aromatic resins, while the ancient Chinese chewed on egg shells to cure their stinky woes. Maybe most shockingly, in the Jewish Talmud, bad breath is an acceptable reason for divorce! 


Halitosis can be caused by a number of issues, but most commonly it’s due to poor oral hygiene. When food particles remain lodged in the mouth and aren’t removed by brushing or flossing, it promotes bacteria growth in between the teeth, on the tongue and around the gum line. These bacteria emit the odor that causes bad breath. Compare this to decaying trash—bacteria break down old and rotting food and cause a rancid odor to be released. There is a reason we want you take our old trash outside! The same concept occurs in your mouth. This is why it’s vitally important to brush and floss your teeth thoroughly and regularly. 


Another cause of bad breath is chronic dry mouth. Saliva is an important component to breaking down food that could get stuck between your teeth. And so, if you aren’t producing enough saliva, halitosis is normally one of the first side-effects. 


Dry mouth can be caused by medications you’re taking, underlying diseases, or even tobacco use. If you are experiencing dry mouth, it’s important to speak to your dentist so they can review you list of medications and examine other aspects of your lifestyle that could be at the root of this chronic problem.  


If you notice your that your breath has become inescapably bad all the time, it’s important review your oral hygiene routine. Remember that bruising and flossing twice a day is the recommended minimum. And when you are eating something that is sticky or likely to get stuck in your teeth, you should brush even more frequently. 


Other ways to cure bad breath are ensuring that you are drinking enough water to prevent dry mouth and washing excess food out from between your teeth. In addition, chewing sugar free gum between meals and cutting back on caffeine (that causes dehydration and dry mouth) are other ways to help prevent bad breath. 


If you have upped your oral hygiene routine and have implemented some of the strategies we offer above, but are still struggling with chronic bad breath, then it’s important to have a conversation with your dentist. They can help you identify what is causing the issue and create a plan to end the bad breath for good. 


We understand how halitosis can interfere with both professional and personal relationships and are committed to helping you get rid of it once and for all!  


Also published on Medium.