Bad Breath – Underlying Causes and Ways to Fight it

Oct 14, 2014 | Dental Information, Oral Health Care, Preventative Dental Care

It doesn’t matter what you call it: bad breath, halitosis, jungle mouth – it’s definitely cause for concern among those who have it. There are probably as many causes of halitosis as there are ways to treat it, however the best way to ensure it’s diagnosed and treated correctly is to see your dentist. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the more common causes and ways of treating it on your own and with our help.

Common Causes of Halitosis

What you eat. You may already know this, but what you eat has an impact on how good (or bad) your breath smells. Eating things like garlic, onions and other pungent-smelling foods causes bad breath – especially if you aren’t brushing on a regular basis (ideally after meals) to remove any lingering food particles that collect bacteria.

Dry mouth. Decreased saliva production (caused by medications, breathing habits or gland problems) can lead to less swallowing and more food particles that aren’t washed off your teeth. If you suffer from dry mouth, we can give you some advice on ways to increase saliva production.

Gum disease. Halitosis that won’t go away can be one of the early warning signs of gum disease caused by plaque buildup in the mouth.

Smoking/tobacco use. You already know smoking and tobacco use in general is bad for your teeth, gums and overall dental health. Now, you can add bad breath to the list of things caused by using these products. As your dentist, we can offer you tips for quitting that will remedy bad breath cased by smoking and chewing.

Medical conditions. Bad breath can be caused by a number of medical conditions. Among these conditions are sinus infections, diabetes, bronchitis and a handful of liver and kidney diseases. In these cases, we can work with your doctor to determine the best course of treatment for halitosis as a symptom.

Mouthwash – Effective, but Temporary

Many people choose mouthwash as their first way to combat halitosis. While it is effective at making your breath smell fresh, it is a cosmetic solution – and a temporary one at best. If you feel the need to use it on a daily basis because of your bad breath, you’ll be better off seeing your dentist for a more permanent and effective solution to your problem.

How Long Does Halitosis Last?

The duration of halitosis is often dependent on the cause or nature of the underlying problem. If your halitosis results from lack of regular brushing, you’ll likely see results after just a few days. Other causes, such as chronic sinusitis, may take longer to remedy – or may be something you have to deal with off-and-on as time goes by. Maintaining good oral hygiene coupled with regular visits to your dentist go a long way toward minimizing halitosis – even if you have an underlying medical condition.

Brushing twice per day and flossing daily are the first steps. Denture wearers should remove dentures at night and make sure they are thoroughly cleaned before replacing them the next morning.

Next Steps – Come See Us

If your halitosis isn’t going away with more frequent brushing and flossing, make an appointment to see us. Regular checkups are the best way for us to keep tabs on what’s going on in your mouth and detect any underlying issues before they get serious. It’s also possible that if we’re unable to determine the underlying cause of your halitosis, we may refer you to your family physician for further troubleshooting.