National Fresh Breath Day is observed every year in the United States on Aug. 6 with an aim to promote oral hygiene.

Poor dental care can cause bad breath, which can be embarrassing and even cause anxiety in some cases. Gum, mints and mouthwashes are some of the products designed to fight bad breath, however, many of these are only temporary measures as they don't address the root cause of the problem.

Causes of bad breath:

  • Food– Food particles stuck in teeth can increase bacteria and cause bad breath. Eating certain food items such as onions and garlic can also cause a foul odor.
  • Tobacco– Smoking can cause unpleasant mouth odor. Those who use tobacco are also more prone to have gum disease, which is another source of bad breath.
  • Dry mouth– Saliva helps keep the mouth clean by removing particles that cause foul odors. However, some people suffer from a condition called dry mouth or xerostomia that can contribute to bad breath as the production of saliva decreases in such cases.
  • Medications– Some medications can cause dry mouth, indirectly producing bad breath.
  • Infection– Surgical wounds after oral surgery, tooth decay, gum disease or mouth sores also contribute to bad breath.
  • Other causes– Inflammation in the nose, sinuses or throat, some cancers, metabolic disorders cause a distinctive breath odor.

Simple steps that help keep mouth fresh and clean:

  • Brush and floss often– Brushing teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once daily help control bad odor. However, don’t overdo it as brushing too hard can wear down your teeth, making them vulnerable to decay.
  • Rinsing– Besides brushing and flossing, gargling with mouthwash can add extra protection. It helps get rid of bacteria, leaving a minty taste and making one feel good and confident.
  • Scrapping tongue– Some people are not aware the tongue hosts smelly bacteria. Hence, it is important to scrape the tongue using a scraper or gently brush it with a toothbrush.
  • Other ways– Avoiding foods that can cause foul breath and quitting smoking can also help fight bad breath issues.
 A toothbrush with toothpaste
Representational image Getty Images/Saul Loeb/AFP