For some people, it took the pandemic to realize how bad their breath actually is. After all, you may not have been quite so well acquainted with the smell of your own breath until you wore a face mask. Even those who maintain an impeccable level of oral hygiene and visit their dentist twice a year can sometimes experience unpleasant breath. But perhaps your own standard of oral hygiene is lacking. When should bad breath be investigated by a dentist?
Freshening Your Breath
There are a tremendous number of products intended to freshen a person's breath, and you might have tried them all. Whether you chew gum, suck on a mint or lozenge, or use a mouthwash or spray—any improvement is brief, and your breath quickly returns to its disagreeable former self. If these methods have consistently failed, there may be an underlying dental cause of your problem.
Even though bad breath might not seem a major issue, the root of the issue might be quite serious indeed—or at least has the potential to wreak havoc with your dental health. Fortunately, the solutions aren't all that demanding and are covered under general dentistry. So what's causing the odious odor in your mouth?
Poor dental hygiene can lead to plaque and tartar. This is a buildup of bacteria (microorganisms), and bacteria can smell. Your sweat doesn't have a great scent, and that unpleasant smell is caused by bacteria on your skin interacting with the secretion. There's a similar effect in your mouth, and once plaque has hardened (become tartar), that potentially smelly biofilm can't be budged with your toothbrush.
If your dental hygiene efforts aren't as comprehensive as they should be, you might regularly have trapped food particles in your mouth. These release odors as they literally decompose while being swarmed by the oral bacteria in your mouth.
If you're a smoker, you may not be surprised about the state of your breath. The accumulation of tar and nicotine on your teeth won't do your breath any favors, and you might have reduced saliva production—which your mouth needs to irrigate itself.
What Your Dentist Can Do
Your dentist can help. If you're a smoker, it's time to stop. Yes, this is easy to say while being difficult to do, but it will significantly improve the smell of your breath. You may also need a comprehensive dental scaling to remove any oral biofilms. Your dentist will also have a few ideas about how to improve your at-home oral hygiene, and will probably recommend a few specific products.
When there's an underlying dental cause for your bad breath, remember that the unpleasant odor is often the first warning sign of more serious problems on the horizon. Don't underestimate the significance of consistently bad breath, and please see a general dentist to have the matter investigated.