Bad breath (also known as halitosis or malodor) can be embarrassing and can affect your relationships or even your job.
We all know that certain foods can cause bad breath (think coffee, onions, garlic and others). Other causes can be health problems: sinus infections, acid reflex and colds to name a few and certain medications.
However studies show that 80 – 90% of bad breath comes from an oral source. Here are some common causes:
Cleanliness: When a person does not brush or floss his/her teeth regularly, food particles remaining in the mouth can rot and cause bad odors. Your mouth also acts like a natural hothouse that allows these bacteria to grow. When you eat, bacteria feed on the food left in your mouth and leaves a foul-smelling waste product behind.
Gum Disease: Bad breath that just won’t go away or a constant bad taste in your mouth can be a warning sign of advanced gum disease, which is caused by a sticky, cavity-causing bacteria called plaque. Gum disease is an infection in your gums and like all infections, needs to be treated right away.
Cavities, rotten teeth, cracked fillings and oral infections can also cause bad breath that cant be “fixed” with mouthwash. These conditions need to be addressed as the further they deteriorate the more they will affect your body’s overall health.
The American Dental Association recommends the following:
Brush and floss teeth regularly. Remember to brush the tongue, or use a tongue scraper, to remove bacteria from its surface. Brushing the tongue can help with bad breath caused by foods a person has eaten.
See a dentist regularly for checkups and to ensure dentures and braces are properly fitted and cleaned (and clean dentures thoroughly each night). This prevents bacteria from growing.
Quit smoking or using chewing tobacco.
Keep the mouth moist by drinking water and chewing sugarless gum or sugar-free hard candy to stimulate the production of saliva. Eat a diet of foods that need to be thoroughly chewed to keep saliva flowing. Foods that require a lot of chewing, such as apples or carrots, are good options.
Over-the-counter mouthwash can help kill bad breath-causing bacteria and may temporarily mask bad breath odors, but it may not treat the underlying cause.
Natural remedies used in the treatment of bad breath include chewing on mint or parsley.
If bad breath is due to a health problem such as a sinus infection, diabetes, acid reflux, GERD etc., then the underlying medical issue needs to be treated.
If bad breath is a side effect of taking a medication, discuss with a health care professional whether there are other options for medication that can be taken. Never stop taking a medication without first consulting your health care professional.
For patients who suffer from dry mouth (xerostomia), artificial saliva may be prescribed by a dentist.
We are here to help you. If you would like to set up an appointment for a checkup please call us at: (707) 762-0067