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Does My Breath Smell Worse the Older I Get?

You bet your sweet butt it does, and getting rid of it’s gonna take some work

Ah, to be a kid again: No worrying about things like taxes, wrinkles or whether you’ll have enough money to make rent — Owning a house? Please. — AND buy yourself dinner. 

Oh, and the other great thing about childhood? A mouth that doesn’t stink like a sewer.

That’s right: If you’ve become strangely concerned that your breath, or your mouth in general, is smelling worse and worse the older you get, you’re not alone, friend. Our mouths do turn more putrid with age, and there’s nothing you can do about it. 

Well, actually, there are some very basic things you can do, but that doesn’t sound as ominous! One of the big reasons why our mouths might stink has to do with the amount of saliva we generate. Namely, as we age, we begin to produce less of it. That’s a problem, because saliva is like nature’s mouthwash. It helps us naturally remove food particles that, if left on and around our teeth and gums, become targets for bacteria. And bacteria are the root cause of most cases of bad breath. 

If a dry mouth (or xerostomia, for you DDS’s out there) sounds like something that’s an ongoing problem for yourself, there are a few over-the-counter solutions you can try, like mouth rinses and saliva stimulants, but nothing beats regular, thorough brushing and flossing. Maybe try opting for an electric toothbrush (inexpensive ones cost like $20 to $40) and brush for two to three minutes, paying particular attention to the backs of your mouth and teeth, where plaque and tartar, i.e., mouth bacteria, likes to hide.

Another reason your mouth might be stinking something good is a poor diet. (Been sneaking a few more pre-bedtime chocolate bon bons in your advanced age?) A diet high in sugar can kick your mouth bacteria into overdrive, which in turn can cause gum disease. Gum disease is what happens when all that bad bacteria gets below your gum line and hardens, affecting the roots of your teeth (and sending you to the dentist for a root canal). When that happens, brushing away all that hardened bacteria gets harder and harder, and eventually, what you’re left with (in addition to jacked-up teeth and gums) is halitosis, aka chronic bad breath.

Once again, treatment for halitosis (and gum disease) is improved oral hygiene. You ever hear of this thing called floss? Yeah, floss is your new best friend, and you should floss daily to help remove as much of that nasty plaque and debris from around your gums as possible. Also, invest in some bacteria-killing mouthwash, and with a little spring mouth-cleaning help from your dentist, you’ll be exhaling roses in no time.