Whether you call it bad breath or halitosis, it’s an unpleasant condition that’s not only a cause for embarrassment but also may indicate a more serious dental health problem. If you’re concerned about bad breath, it is important to have your teeth and gums examined. Bad breath can be caused by a number of sources, and an exam can help identify the cause and determine the best treatment.
What causes bad breath?
- Food: Certain foods, like onions and garlic, affect the air you exhale. As your body digests and metabolizes the food, the air you breath out will be affected. Also, if you don't brush and floss daily, particles of food can remain in the mouth, collecting bacteria, and resulting in bad breath. Dieters may also develop unpleasant breath from infrequent eating.
- Gum disease: Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth can also be one of the warning signs of gum disease. When bacteria infects gum pockets, bad breath will develop. Without treatment, gum disease can result in teeth becoming loose and eventually needing to be removed.
- Dry mouth: Dry mouth occurs when the flow of saliva decreases and can be caused by various medications, salivary gland problems or continuously breathing through the mouth. Without enough saliva, food particles stick to the teeth and gums and result in mouth odors.
- Smoking and tobacco: In addition to staining teeth and being bad for overall health, tobacco use is a common cause of bad breath. Tobacco use causes irritation to gum tissues, increases the risk of periodontal disease and oral cancers. By eliminating smoking and other tobacco products, you not only improve your breath but also reduce your risk to other health problems.
- Medical conditions: Some diseases have symptoms related to bad breath. Sinus or lung infections, bronchitis, diabetes, and some liver or kidney diseases may be associated with bad breath.
How can you treat bad breath?
- Maintain good oral hygiene: Since most breath issues are caused by bacteria in the mouth, proper brushing, flossing and tongue cleaning will help reduce or eliminate bad breath. Also, be sure you are cleaning dentures, partials and retainers everyday.
- Treat gum disease: If you suffer from gum disease, it is important to get appropriate and early treatment. This may include deeper and more frequent cleanings, antibiotic therapy, or gum surgery. Without treatment, there is a risk of infection and tooth loss.
- Eliminate tobacco use and foods that cause bad breath.
- Treat dry mouth by using products such as Biotene to keep the mouth moist.
- Use sugar-free mints and gum but remember this only masks the bad breath and does not eliminate it.
- Schedule regular cleanings and exams to keep the teeth and gums as healthy as possible.
If you’re concerned about what’s causing your bad breath, call our office to make an appointment. Regular checkups allow us to detect any problems such as gum disease or dry mouth. If we determine that your mouth is healthy, we would be able to refer you to your primary care physician to evaluate any systemic problems.
The Almoney and Brown Dental Team