Chronic bad breath, or halitosis, is an embarrassing and detrimental condition in that it not only affects one’s social and business relationships, but can also signal serious dental and/or health issues. It is estimated that between 50% and 65% of the United States population is affected by bad breath. Unfortunately, most people are unaware that they have a problem unless they are made aware of it by others in their circle, which is often a sensitive and discomforting situation. Fortunately, once recognized, there are treatments and remedies to rectify the situation, and Gateway Dental Care can diagnose the cause of your problem and recommend appropriate steps to eliminate it.
Causes of Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Poor Dental Hygiene
The major cause of bad breath is failing to brush and floss regularly, leading to a build-up of odor-creating microbes lodged between your teeth and gums, as well as on your tongue.
Poor dental hygiene can lead to plaque build-up, gingivitis and ultimately to periodontitis, producing severe inflammation around the teeth. This produces spaces in between the teeth and gums where food can lodge and allow bacteria to multiply, producing bad breath.
Eating Certain Foods
While eating foods such as onions and garlic can produce bad breath, it is usually a temporary condition that results when food is broken down, digested, and absorbed by the bloodstream, ending up in your lungs and exhaled in your breath.
Dry mouth or xerostomia results when saliva production is inhibited, since saliva helps rinse your mouth of odor-producing bacteria. There are several possible causes, including taking certain prescription drugs, breathing through your mouth, snoring, and excessive alcohol consumption.
Tobacco in cigarettes and cigars produces a strong breath odor and can irritate your gums.
Poorly fitted or cleaned dentures, oral yeast infections, untreated dental cavities, sinus infections, postnasal drip, diabetes, chronic acid reflux, pneumonia or bronchitis, and liver or kidney disease can also cause bad breath.
Tips to Reduce Persistent Bad Breath:
- Brush your teeth and tongue at least twice daily, replacing your brush every 3 months.
- Floss between teeth at least once daily or use an interdental device.
- Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily to keep your mouth hydrated.
- Avoid eating odor-producing foods prior to a social or business engagement.
- Quit smoking or chewing tobacco.
- Remove and clean dentures every night.
Prevention & Treatment for Bad Breath
It is essential to visit our office for a check-up and cleaning at least twice a year to maintain your dental health and to rule out more serious conditions that may affect your oral and/or overall health. For instance, gingivitis or gum disease should be treated immediately to prevent it from progressing into periodontitis with possible tooth loss. Treatment might include deep cleaning of gum pockets, antibiotics for infections, or even referral for periodontal gum surgery. While mouthwashes are largely ineffective in treating bad breath, usually lasting less than an hour, there are several products we can recommend that do deal with odor-causing bacteria.
In any case Gateway Dental can diagnose the cause of your bad breath and, if associated with a dental condition (which is usually the case), can initiate treatment to eliminate this embarrassing condition from your life. On the other hand, if we determine that your mouth is healthy and is not the source of your problem, we can refer you to your physician for further diagnoses.