Bad breath: Many Americans avoiding the dentist amid pandemic

Chances are you're not alone if the stench of someone else's bad breath has recently caught you off guard.

"I was on a plane the other day and somebody took their mask off for a minute," said one person. "I was like, 'Whoa.'" 

As mask mandates are being lifted and people are slowly starting to feel more comfortable going out without wearing one, don't be surprised if you get a not-so-welcomed whiff of bad breath as we say so long to social distancing, Dr. Ed Sloyer said. 

"There have been people with bleeding gums," Sloyer, a dentist, said. "A lot of people have been neglectful."

Almost half of adults in the U.S. reported putting off health check-ups due to COVID-19 concerns, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But now as we transition back into a post-COVID lifestyle, doctors' offices are some of the safest places and now is the time to plan your visit to the dentist. 

The American Dental Association recommends limiting sugars, brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing regularly, and visiting the dentist every six months or even more frequently if you have periodontal issues. 

Sloyer said bad breath or having a bad taste in your mouth can be early indicators of decay, gum disease, or infection. 

"Some of it's reversible," he said. "If you get to it early, you can do a cleaning to get the gums back in shape but as time goes on, it becomes less treatable."

The sooner you get treated, the better off you'll be.