By the time we realize we have it, it’s already too late, the damage has been done. The telltale sign might be someone offering you a tic-tac, taking a step back or flinching when you talk.
Although our instinct is to exhale-into-the-hand-and-sniff that generally doesn’t suggest anything since we’re used to the smell of your own breath. Bad breath, or halitosis, can affect most of us whether we like it or not. Bad breath comes from bacteria in your mouth breaking down your food and expelling what experts call “odiferous sulfur containing compounds”.
Getting down to the nitty-gritty, there can be many reasons why you have a lingering bad taste and smell in your mouth. From bad oral hygiene to that extra slice of garlic bread (never on a first date – we know). Below are some surprising reasons you should consider next time you reach for a mint.
You may already have experienced this one for yourself. Experts say your breath gets better after eating, and worse if you tend to skip meals. So, staying away from food is actually worse than diving in for that extra slice of garlic bread. When you get hungry, or if it’s been a while since your last meal, it’s most likely your mouth hasn’t had a chance to produce any saliva. This, in combination with food, is responsible for scrapping any remnants of funky breath. Alternatively, if you have a very restrictive diet (i.e. carb deficient) the imbalances in your body could be trying to tell your mouth something, according to Medical News Today. Plus, no one likes being hangry, so make sure you pack lunch next time.
As obvious as this may sound, it’s well worth a mention. We’ve all been prone to forgetting a nightly brush-sesh or two, and even neglected the dental floss a little (okay – a lot). According to Tina Giannacopoulos, a dentist at Boston Dental, “trapped food particles accelerate the growth of bacteria and cause inflammation, leading to bad breath.”
You’re already doing the mandatory brushing twice daily and flossing (come on – be honest), but do you also remember to cleanse one of the most important parts of your mouth? Yep, your tongue. According to The Mayo Clinic, your tongue can hold plaque in the back third, which can be one of the main culprits of bad breath. Make sure you brush the back area of your tongue as well as your teeth, or even invest in a tongue scraper.
The Mayo Clinic lists medications as one of the top reasons for bad breath. Why? A lot of medications like anti-depressants and antihistamines have the tendency to dry out the mouth. Muscle relaxants, vitamins, pain meds, and decongestants are also common culprits. Tip: Make sure you drink plenty of water.
If you’re talking all the time, and for long periods of time, all that jabbering is drying your mouth out. This doesn’t allow saliva to come through the mouth and rinse out any lingering bacteria. Case in point: Remember that uni professor whose breath probably made you sit all the way at the back of the auditorium? Yeah, he talked a lot. And probably didn’t hydrate accordingly either. That’s one lesson learned.
In a five-part series on bad breath for The Huffington Post, practicing dentist Thomas P. Connelly explains the effects exhaustion has on your breath. Your everyday things like coffee (lots of it) and stress (which is linked to the aforementioned excess of caffeine) can seriously affect the natural balance of your mouth. When you’re stressed, your body starts to produce cortisol which has been proven to dry out the mouth. Hence, the lack of saliva = bad breath.
Aunt Flow’s monthly visits could also be a culprit, according to Patricia Lentil, dental hygienist and director of the Oral Health Research Clinic at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. In a recent interview with SELF Magazine, she said, “It’s possible that the hormonal fluctuations around your period make your mouth drier, or cause your gums to swell or bleed, all of which can contribute to halitosis”. Surprising, indeed!