Most people who have bad breath don’t even realize it. That’s because they have gradually become accustomed to their own breath so don’t notice that it’s offensive — and most other people are too embarrassed to tell them!
Still, an estimated one out of every four people suffers from bad breath, according to the American Dental Association. And if you haven’t been paying attention to your oral health as well as you should, that startling statistic could include you.
Causes and Cures
There are lots of reasons people have bad breath. In some instances, it’s actually very short-lived and caused by something they recently ate that was strongly flavored, such as garlic or onions.
Halitosis is the term for more long-term bad breath. Usually, it is caused by the decay and rot of food particles that are stuck in the spaces in between teeth. When somebody doesn’t brush, floss, and use mouthwash regularly, these food particles don’t have anywhere to go. So over time, they begin to break down, emitting unpleasant odors that are pushed outward from the breath through exhalation.
Because this process can happen very slowly, people with halitosis rarely realize their breath is offensive or unpleasant to other people. After all, if they did realize it, they would probably do something about it!
The best way to get rid of halitosis is also the simplest: Adopt good oral health habits. These include brushing after every meal, flossing before bed, and using mouthwash in the morning and again at night. Generally, these are enough to remove trapped food particles, bacteria, and other organisms that cause bad breath in your mouth, teeth, and gums.
Good oral health habits also promote strong and healthy teeth. It’s a good idea to see your dentist at least twice per year for regular checkups. That way, any problems can be discovered and addressed before they can grow bigger and more serious.