It's hard to say what's worse—knowing you've got bad breath, or having bad breath and not knowing it. The undisputed fact is that having bad breath, or chronic halitosis, can negatively affect your intimate relationships, social life and self esteem.
Your own senses can get used to the smells coming from your mouth and body, so it's not always easy to tell if your breath is bad enough to peel paint. The best way to know for sure if your breath is offensive is to ask your best friend for an honest answer. If you're too embarrassed to ask, floss your teeth with some unscented dental floss, and take a sniff for yourself. If you smell something unpleasant, it's probable that the people around you are smelling the same thing on your breath.
If you're still not sure, ask your dentist if your breath is malodorous. Not only can he tell you the truth about your breath, but he may be able to help you out with a solution if your breath is unpleasant.
Believe it or not, there are people who believe their breath could knock a grown man flat, but in truth have breath that's completely inoffensive to others. Studies have found that about five percent of people who claim to have chronic halitosis really have pseudo-halitosis.
Bad breath can have a number of possible causes, including what you had for lunch. If you're worried about your breath, avoid foods like garlic, onions and strong spices. Diets that include fasting, and those that reduce carbohydrates can also make your breath malodorous, so eating a well-balanced, healthy diet is a good way to keep your breath healthy as well.
Your habits can also negatively affect your breath. Use of tobacco products, and consumption of large amounts of coffee, beer or wine can also add unpleasant odors to your breath.
In some cases, bad breath is a side effect of an underlying disease. Diabetes, liver disease, acid reflux and chronic respiratory diseases can cause halitosis. If your bad breath is a symptom of one of these disorders, treating the root cause is the best way to reduce and eventually cure your bad breath.
The primary cause of chronic halitosis, however, is poor oral hygiene. Visiting your dentist for a professional cleaning, brushing your teeth after every meal, flossing at least once per day and using an antibacterial mouthwash regularly can reduce or eliminate bad breath in many cases.
Your dentist will be able to tell if your breath odors are caused by problems with your teeth and gums, and begin treatment for whatever problems with your teeth and gums he may find.
In most cases, the prognosis for chronic halitosis is good. Determining the cause, improving oral care, and changing diet and habits can lead to fresher breath, improved relationships, and less embarrassment in social situations.