Bad breath can be an embarrassing problem. It affects your closest relationships and can influence your success at work. There are many potential causes of bad breath, and in order to actually “cure” it, you will need to see your dentist and/or medical doctor. In the meantime, there is one thing you can do to improve your breath: Fight dry mouth.
Why Dry Mouth Causes Bad Breath
All bad breath has its origin in bacteria. Everyone’s mouth is full of bacteria, and not all bacteria is bad. However, some bacteria produce worse odors than others do. The bacteria that live in dental plaque and cause cavities and gum disease are particularly smelly.
You would think that our “one simple trick” would then be to brush and floss your teeth. And that’s a really smart thought. However, we know that people reading this article have probably already tried that “trick”. What many do not realize is how important saliva is to fresh breath. Saliva neutralizes the acid by-product of bacteria, it flushes away dental plaque and food debris, and it reduces the risk of cavities and gum disease.
It makes total sense when you consider your own experiences with a dry mouth. Consider a morning when you have woken up with your mouth wide open. The mouth feels completely dry, and you know that your breath is terrible. Those who suffer from chronic dry mouth often have a perpetual state of bad breath.
Fighting Dry Mouth
There are several important steps in fighting dry mouth.
- Discuss prescription options with your medical doctor.
Today, the most common cause of dry mouth is prescription medication. Drugs that treat high blood pressure, depression, and allergies all have the side effect of dry mouth. If you take any prescription medications and suffer from a noticeably dry mouth, talk to your doctor about options for lowering your dosage or alternatives to the prescription drugs.
- Stay well hydrated.
If your body is dehydrated, it cannot make saliva. You must drink plenty of water and avoid beverages that actually dehydrate you more. This includes anything with caffeine, alcohol, or high sugar levels. They all pull water out of your system, making you thirstier in the end.
Combat this by drinking water throughout the day. Water should be your main beverage source, with other drinks as the “extras”.
- Use mild oral care products.
Many people attempt to improve bad breath by using strong, harsh mouthwashes and toothpastes. The truth is that these can actually have a drying effect on the mouth and make the situation even worse. Those suffering from dry mouth should only use alcohol-free mouthwash and mild-flavored toothpastes. Biotene is a wonderful brand that makes an entire line of oral care products for dry mouth sufferers. Another great mouthwash for dry mouth is Hydris by Colgate.
- Use products to moisturize the inside of the mouth.
Biotene also makes additional products for moisturizing the inside of your mouth throughout the day. They make both a dry mouth spray and a gel that create a moisture coating and act as a salivary replacement.
This differs from breath spray because the primary purpose is moisturizing and lubricating the inside of the mouth, not simply covering up a bad smell. Most users notice that it does improve their breath, and the effect lasts longer than that of a breath spray.
- Stimulate natural saliva production.
There are a couple of different ways to stimulate saliva production, and these two are our favorites. First, chewing sugar free gum throughout the day has been shown to increase your salivary glands’ output. Choosing a relatively strong flavor will improve the effect, especially sour or tart flavors.
The other method of stimulating saliva flow is specifically for nighttime use. The body naturally reduces its saliva output during sleep (so that we do not drown . . .), so a person with dry mouth may notice that it becomes so dry almost to the point of being painful overnight. Xylimelts are small xylitol-releasing patches placed on the roof of the mouth before bed. The xylitol is a natural sugar that is slightly sweet, and as it is released into the mouth throughout the night, it causes saliva production. These patches are a game changer for many who suffer from dry mouth. They are available in some drugstores and grocery stores, and also online from Amazon.
More Questions about Bad Breath?
Call today to schedule a visit with one of our dentist s. We can assess your current situation and help you treat any problems that could be worsening your breath.