Chronic bad breath, or halitosis, affects almost 25 percent of the population. Halitosis can cause significant anxiety and embarrassment. There are many products to help to combat bad breath: mints, gum, mouthwashes and mouth sprays. However, these products only provide temporary relief; they do not cure the root cause.
The severity of halitosis differs with the underlying cause. It can be hard to determine how your breath smells without someone else confirming it. Some people have bad breath and do not seem to be aware of it.
On the other hand, others have no mouth odor but think they do. Sometimes, asking a close friend or relative can be helpful. Reviewing your oral hygiene habits is the first step in addressing bad breath. If the condition persists, seek medical advice.
There are several causes of bad breath. They include:
Poor dental hygiene
Eating certain foods such as garlic or onions
Smoking or using tobacco products
Dry mouth due to decreased saliva production
Oral infections, mouth sores, tooth decay, or gum disease
Medications that cause dry mouth or release smelly gases
Throat, sinus, or nose infections or inflammation
Underlying health conditions or diseases
A foreign body lodged in the nasal cavity (most common in children)
The dentist will perform a smell test to determine whether you have halitosis. Along with smelling the breath from your mouth and nose, the dentist may also scrape a sample from the back of the tongue, which is usually the source of the smell.
Rating the odor will help to determine whether you have chronic halitosis. There are even detectors that can help identify chemicals that cause bad breath.
Simple lifestyle remedies can help prevent or reduce bad breath. They include brushing your teeth after every meal, flossing once a day, and brushing your tongue. Cleaning your teeth thoroughly every day is vital, especially if you wear dental appliances such as dentures, mouthguards, or retainers. The dentist may recommend specific toothpastes and mouth rinses to help kill bacteria.
Prevent dry mouth by drinking plenty of water as well as avoiding tobacco and beverages that cause dehydration. Regular dental visits for cleanings and checkups will help prevent bad breath.
If you still have bad breath after improving your oral habits and lifestyle, you may have a more serious underlying condition causing your halitosis.
Halitosis can be a symptom of gum disease. Gum disease, or periodontitis, is a serious condition that requires regular care and attention to prevent it from progressing. If you have gum disease, you probably have deep pockets between your gums and teeth. These pockets are difficult to clean and can harbor odor-causing bacteria that can eventually lead to tooth loss. Professional cleanings help remove the bacteria to allow gums to heal. A dental hygienist can provide a deeper cleaning called scaling and root planing to remove build up under the gum line. If you have gum disease, you may need professional cleanings more than twice a year for optimal oral health.
For more on treating chronic halitosis, call Jonny Fisher DDS at (509) 383-8300 to reach our Pullman, Washington office.