We’ve all experienced the unpleasant effects of bad breath at some point. Also known as halitosis, bad breath can be embarrassing and may cause us to shy away from talking to others. Typically, a first line of defense against offensive breath is your trusty toothbrush; brushing your teeth at least twice a day is recommended to keep your mouth clean and your breath fresh. But what if you’ve brushed your teeth and the problem persists?
There are a few different things that could cause bad breath after brushing. In this article, we’ll share six possible reasons you’re experiencing that “not-so-fresh” feeling even after brushing, as well as a few ways to solve the problem.
6 possible causes of bad breath
1. Dry mouth
As bacteria accumulates in your mouth, a lack of saliva could contribute to bad breath. Dry mouth could be caused by not drinking enough water throughout the day or by certain medical conditions or medications. If you suspect your bad breath may be the result of dry mouth, make an effort to drink more water throughout the day and speak with your dentist or doctor if it persists.
Odors from certain foods and beverages, including onions, garlic, and coffee, tend to linger even after a thorough brushing.
Tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health conditions can cause bad breath.
4. Medical conditions
Sinus infections, strep throat, acid reflux, and other systemic issues could be the underlying cause of long-lasting unpleasant breath. The mouth has been aptly described as the “gateway to the body,” so if you believe your halitosis is caused by a health concern, visit your doctor and express your concerns.
I know what you’re thinking – “Wait, isn’t mouthwash supposed to help bad breath?” Many people don’t know that alcohol, including the type found in alcohol-based mouthwash, dries out your mouth, leading to bad breath. To avoid drying out your mouth, choose an alcohol-free mouthwash for longer-lasting minty freshness.
6. Smoking and tobacco products
If you smoke or use tobacco products, chances are good that brushing alone won’t mask the resulting bad breath. There are many good reasons to quit the habit; this is just one more.
How to fix bad breath
No matter the root cause of your bad breath, there are healthy habits you can develop to try to combat it. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes is the first step. But what else can you do if bad breath persists after brushing?
Floss daily: Flossing will remove food particles missed by brushing alone, helping reduce the risk of odor-causing bacteria growth.
Drink plenty of water: Drinking water throughout the day helps wash away food debris and bacteria. It also can help with chronic dry mouth, another bad breath culprit.
Chew sugarless gum: Chewing gum stimulates saliva, which helps to keep your mouth hydrated and can minimize bad breath.
Eat tooth-cleaning foods: Certain crunchy fruits and vegetables, including apples, celery, and others, can help clean your teeth. In fact, celery has been called “nature’s floss!”
Clean your tongue: If you still experience bad breath after brushing, there could be food residue on your tongue. Try a tongue scraper (an inexpensive tool found in drugstores) or try brushing your tongue with your toothbrush to solve this issue and prevent bacteria buildup.
Quit smoking: If you need help quitting smoking, the CDC offers helpful resources, including steps to making a “quit plan,” ways to manage your cravings, and more.
Visit your dentist regularly: If you have chronic offensive breath, your dentist may be able to discern the root of the problem. Regular hygiene cleanings will also help remove more odor-causing bacteria than at-home care alone. Your dentist and hygienist may also be able to spot areas you’re not able to reach by brushing alone. If this is the case, they may recommend better flossing techniques or even sealants to help prevent tooth decay.
Consistent at-home dental care, including brushing and flossing, is one of your first lines of defense against stinky breath. However, if the problem persists despite your best efforts, speak with a dental professional to identify and solve the cause. Your dentist can help you feel confident to smile and speak confidently without fears of bad breath!
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.