Halitosis or Bad Breath

What to Do?

Very few things are as embarrassing as discovering you have bad breath and nobody bothered to mention it to you. The first thing that may come to mind is how many people noticed, with the next being how to get rid of it. Halitosis, the medical term for bad breath, often comes as a result of poor oral hygiene and other health issues. It may also result from food choices or other unhealthy habits. What does every person need to know about halitosis, and how can this common problem be prevented?

Food Choices

Everyone has bad breath at one time or another. Eat garlic or onions and others will definitely be able to tell. When food is consumed, the digestive process begins in the mouth. As the process takes place, the bloodstream absorbs the food odors and carries them to the lungs. Any resulting odors are then present in the breath. The problem here is that the foods must pass through the body before the bad breath will be eliminated. Brushing, flossing, and the use of mouthwash won’t eliminate the issue, but will only temporarily mask it, thus take care when eating foods known to cause bad breath. It’s often best to save those treats for home.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Brushing and flossing help to remove food particles from the mouth. When particles remain behind, they bring about the growth of bacteria on the tongue, between the teeth and around the gums, which leads to bad breath. For this reason, it is important to routinely brush and floss the teeth, and many opt to use an antibacterial mouth rinse to help reduce the growth of this bacteria.

Denture wearers need to take care to properly clean their false teeth, as bacteria and food particles may become trapped and cause smelly breath. Those who smoke or use products that contain tobacco often suffer from halitosis, and this is only one of the many issues associated with the use of these products. Tobacco also stains the teeth, irritates the gums, and reduces the user’s ability to taste foods.

Health Issues

Individuals with halitosis need a complete physical and dental checkup, as this problem may be a sign something else is going on in the body. For example, periodontal disease tends to leave a person with a bad taste in their mouth or a chronic problem with bad breath. This disease occurs when plaque builds up on the teeth, as the bacteria in the plaque leads to toxins forming. The gums become irritated, and the jawbone and gums may sustain damage. Cavities, oral yeast infections, and dental appliances that don’t properly fit are also causes of bad breath.

Individuals suffering from xerostomia, otherwise known as dry mouth, frequently struggle with bad breath. Saliva produced by the body moistens the mouth, and this helps to neutralize any odors brought on by plaque. In addition, the saliva works to remove any dead cells that have built up on the cheeks, gums, and tongue. When the cells aren’t adequately removed, they begin to decompose and bad breath is noticed. Some individuals taking certain medications find this is a side effect, mouth breathers tend to suffer from dry mouth, and those with salivary gland problems often find this is a problem they experience.

When oral health problems have been eliminated, the person suffering from bad breath may need to undergo a complete physical. Diabetics often have bad breath, and the same is true of those suffering from chronic gastroesophageal reflux. Individuals who have bronchitis, pneumonia, liver or kidney problems, postnasal drip, or routine sinus infections often experience bad breath. For this reason, a checkup is needed to eliminate or treat these causes.

Tips For Preventing Bad Breath

Practice good oral hygiene habits. Brush and floss daily to remove food particles and plaque, brushing the tongue at the same time. Replace the toothbrush regularly, every three months or sooner, and use an antibacterial mouthwash two times a day. Regular dental cleanings, a minimum of twice a year, are essential also.

Clean dentures daily. Have them fitted regularly to ensure no food gets trapped under them.

Avoid products containing tobacco. If breaking the habit is hard, the dentist and a doctor can provide tips to help kick the habit for good.

Drink plenty of water, as this keeps the mouth moist. Sugarless candy and sugarless chewing gum help to stimulate saliva production, and this helps to remove bacteria and food particles. Monitor the foods eaten to determine which are bringing on the bad breath.

Everyone experiences bad breath at one time or another. When this is an ongoing issue, however, the underlying cause needs to be identified. Speak to your dentist today, as bad breath can be a sign of a more serious problem. The sooner this problem is identified, the better it will be for your overall health. The Washington Center for Cosmetic Dentistry can help, so give us a call today regarding halitosis or any other services we can help with.