The Bad Breath Institute estimates that 35 to 45 percent of the worldwide population has bad breath (also known as halitosis) of some sort, and that everyone suffers from at least occasional bad breath for one reason or another. Additionally, more than 80 million Americans are plagued by chronic bad breath, and 57 percent of those who endure halitosis have experienced depression directly attributed to the condition. For many, bad breath can prove to be a source of insecurity and anxiety in social and professional settings.
However, with the proper diagnosis and treatment, there is no need to chronically suffer from bad breath. Learning more about the common causes lurking behind halitosis and implementing solutions recommended by dentists and healthcare professionals can help banish bad breath for good.
Common Causes of Bad Breath
- Dry mouth:
Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a common problem that can cause many mouth ailments, including bad breath. Dry mouth occurs due to a decrease in the amount of saliva produced by the salivary glands, either as a result of direct salivary gland issues or as a side effect of medicine, cancer treatments, underlying health conditions, autoimmune diseases, and smoking. “Morning breath,” or bad breath after a night’s sleep, is due to dry mouth, particularly if someone snores or breathes through the mouth while sleeping.
Saliva washes away food debris, limiting the formation of harmful bacteria and sticky plaque that can result in tooth decay and gum disease. Signs of dry mouth, in addition to bad breath, are thick saliva, a diminished sense of taste, gum and mouth irritation, and an increase in tooth decay.
- Poor oral hygiene:
Poor oral hygiene, or failing to regularly and properly brush, floss, and rinse the teeth and mouth, leaves behind leftover food particles that can cause bad breath odor, as well as an increase in cavities and gum disease. Remember, keeping the mouth fresh and clean is necessary to eliminate the harmful bacteria and plaque buildup that can result in halitosis.
- Cavities and gum disease:
Bad breath can indicate untreated tooth decay and gum disease; both conditions create areas in the mouth that can harbor leftover food particles, leading to plaque formation and more decay, disease, and odor.
Bad breath may be a sign of an infection in the mouth, gums, tonsils, sinuses, throat, or lungs. Halitosis after oral surgery could mean an infection has developed in the post-surgery wound. Additionally, sores in the mouth that crop up for any reason can become infected and produce odor.
- Chronic illness and medical treatments:
Bad breath can accompany chronic illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune deficiencies; it can also result from medical treatments and certain medications.
- Odor from foods or smoking:
Consuming odorous foods such as garlic, onions, certain spices, and coffee can leave behind unpleasant smells in the mouth; the same goes for smoking cigarettes or cigars and chewing tobacco.
Treatments for Bad Breath
- Practice good oral hygiene:
Good oral hygiene is the first line of defense against bad breath. Brush and rinse thoroughly several times a day and after eating, in addition to flossing at least once daily. Brushing or scraping the tongue with a tongue scraper also eliminates odor-causing bacteria. Be sure to keep dentures and mouth appliances, such as mouth guards and retainers clean.
- Visit the dentist regularly:
Schedule regular dental visits for professional cleanings and comprehensive exams to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, culprits of bad breath. Through x-rays, diagnostic tests, and careful examinations of the mouth and tongue, the dentist will be able to spot oral problems early-on and will keep record of any changes in the mouth.
If you are experiencing chronic halitosis or dry mouth, dentists such as Dr. Balaji of Aesthetic Dental Creations will be able to garner information from your health intake records. This can help identify possible sources of bad breath or dry mouth, like changes in medication or overall health. Dentists can also perform diagnostic tests and check the salivary glands to pinpoint the root of the problem. If the professionals at Aesthetic Dental Creations suspect that an underlying health issue beyond the teeth, gums, and mouth is causing the condition, we will immediately advise our patient to see his or her general practitioner for proper assessment and treatment.
- Keep the mouth moist:
Drink plenty of water to keep the mouth hydrated. Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free lozenges can also stimulate saliva production and help eliminate odor.
Dentists can recommend effective over-the-counter mouth rinses to help with halitosis and dry mouth; they can also prescribe special rinses and mouth lubricants, if necessary.
If you or someone close to you suffers from chronic bad breath or dry mouth, a visit to Aesthetic Dental Creations is a suitable starting point for diagnoses and treatments; as the above blog informs, oral issues oftentimes sit at the root of bad breath. We would be happy to assess your specific situation and provide you with relief from this often embarrassing yet solvable problem. Please call us today at 732-363-5370, or request an appointment online.
Dr. Balaji Srinivasan, known to his patients as “Dr. Balaji,” has been providing general and cosmetic dental services in Ocean County, NJ since 1997, with patients from Ocean County, Monmouth County, and other areas of Central New Jersey. At Aesthetic Dental Creations of Jackson, NJ, Dr. Balaji and his dental office staff remain dedicated to providing each patient with superior care and customer service, as well as precise dental procedures using the latest technology innovations and cutting-edge procedures. Aesthetic Dental Creations provides dental services for the entire family. At Aesthetic Dental Creations, patients of all ages have a lot to smile about!