Don't stress - your breath will thank you
SUMMARY: Stress can dry the mouth and, in turn, cause bad breath. However, there are many ways to cut stress from your day-to-day life.
Posted: March 20, 2014
There are many factors that can lead to bad breath, also known as halitosis. Eating pungent foods, periodontal disease, sinus infections, smoking and even illnesses such as diabetes can contribute to an offensive smell in the mouth. It's generally caused by an excess of bad bacteria, but some people continue to experience oral odor even though they brush and floss regularly, change their bad habits and maintain good hygiene. In such cases, stress may be the culprit.
How does stress cause halitosis?
When people are in high-stress circumstances, their bodies react by kicking on the sympathetic nervous system. This system essentially triggers the fight-or-flight response mechanism, providing you with a boost of energy so you can react quickly to the situation. This natural survival function has helped humanity live through even the most dangerous circumstances, but it also causes the mouth to produce a lower level of saliva - saliva is mandatory for moistening food for easier digestion, but the body deems it unnecessary in critical situations.
Saliva evaporates and the mouth becomes dry, leading to bad breath. This happens because the odorous gases created by bacteria in the mouth, which are generally suppressed by spit and swallowed away, are free to be released into the air. Additionally, bacteria are much more likely to stick to the surfaces of a dry mouth, which can further enhance the sour smell.
Are there any quick fixes?
The dental community has developed a plethora of ways to fight bad breath caused by dry mouth. Keeping the mouth moist by drinking plenty of water is essential, and chewing sugar-free gum can stimulate the production of saliva. If you turn to mouthwash to wash away odor-causing bacteria, be sure to choose one that has little or no alcohol, which can further dehydrate the mouth. While these techniques may help you find relief from a stinky mouth, it's important to solve the problem at the root of the issue. This may require you to collaborate with your dentist and physician to determine precisely why you have bad breath and come up with a treatment plan that's specific to your needs.
How do I cut out stress?
If anxiety is the cause of your bad breath, you have a multitude of stress-reduction techniques at your fingertips. Meditation is one of the most widely known practices of clearing the mind and easing tension, and it has been clinically proven to reduce stress and incite relaxation. Similarly, deep breathing exercises can be very beneficial, and any form of exercise may boost endorphin production and help you better handle your emotions in high-tension situations. You may also want to reach out to friends and mental health professionals for help working through difficult times in your life. If you're still having trouble calming your nerves, you may want to talk to your doctor about anti-anxiety medications.