Could bad breath indicate bigger problem?

Periodontist recommends tricks to fighting bad breath

HOUSTON – Everyone has experienced bad breath, either as the suspect or the victim. But there are easy fixes for freshness, as well as signs indicating bad breath is the symptom of a more serious problem.

Periodontist David Genet said the trick to fixing bad breath is actually finding the origin.

"The majority of concerns are of dental or oral origin, meaning they happen right here in the mouth," Genet said.

Cavities, gum disease and impacted wisdom teeth that accumulate food and bacteria are the most common culprits.

"That bacteria, when it overgrows, causes bad breath," Genet explained.

But there are other reasons your breath may not be so sweet, especially if you're stressed out.

"When we're stressed, our homeostatic relationships in our bodies are not working as well; therefore we get an overgrowth of bacteria, dry mouth," Genet said.

Even some foods you don't suspect may be causing the problem.

"Like meat and cheese that react with amino acids and bacteria in your mouth," Genet said.

So what are some solutions?

Genet recommends sugar-free lemon drops.

"The lemon stimulates saliva," Genet explained.

Another quick fix: "Rinsing your mouth with water, drinking water and swishing it around in your mouth," Genet said.

Dental problems become more frequent as we get older, so Genet encourages people over the age of 50 to visit their dentist four times a year instead of twice.

Experts recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove food debris and plaque. Also, use floss and antibacterial mouthwash to remove any residue that may be placed between the teeth. Other than your teeth, remember to also clean the tongue.

Replace your toothbrush every two to three months or after an illness since they can accumulate bacteria.

Visit your dentist at least twice a year. Most of the time the cause of bad breath is due to dental reasons like dental cavities and impacted wisdom teeth that accumulate food and bacteria. Your doctor will be able to detect what is causing the problem and know how to treat it.

Stop smoking. It may be the primary cause for bad breath and it can lead to other diseases.

Drink lots of water. A dry mouth can cause bad breath because an overgrowth of bacteria occurs. A dry mouth can be a side effect of medications and even stress.

Other solutions include chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless candies, like lemon drops, and drinking water, which helps stimulate the production of saliva and helps wash away food particles and bacteria.