Whether you know a few close talkers or unfortunately are one yourself, you want to feel comfortable when things get close. You don’t want to be caught in a situation that requires close interaction (your best friend is finally telling you that secret you’ve been dying to hear!) and realize that halitosis has made itself a part of the conversation! Although bad breath isn’t the most serious condition, it can cause some real problems! Namely social discomfort and diminished self-esteem. You have the right to feel confident in your interactions and bad breath should never be what holds you back!
Causes Of Bad Breath
90% of cases of halitosis originate in the mouth. If you’re suffering from bad breath your best bet is to first consider an oral hygiene issue as the cause. Bad breath is actually the third most common reason people seek to visit the dentist. You’re on the right track people! If you’re suffering from halitosis don’t be shy about visiting your dentist. They can help identify the cause and offer you treatment options. Your dentist can also professionally diagnosis you. They may do so by using a halimeter which is a device that measures the amount of sulfur emissions in your breath. Because of the ways halitosis affects an individual socially, halitosis is often so feared that it is self reported by individuals who in fact have no sign of bad breath. Someone suffering from pseudohalitosis can be comforted by a dentist assuring them that they do not have halitosis. So what causes real halitosis?
Halitosis often originates on the very back of the tongue. This is because the tongue is often neglected during brushing and because its bumpy ridges make it the perfect nesting place for bacteria. Many dead cells also accumulate here.
Sometimes halitosis is caused by the condition dry mouth. This is where the salivary glands fail to produce an adequate amount of saliva to wash away bacteria and food particles, which then collect. Saliva also works to neutralize the acids in your mouth and in the foods and drinks you consume. Various things can cause dry mouth including certain medications and mouth breathing.
Halitosis can be a symptom of gum disease. Periodontal disease occurs when the gum pulls away from the tooth creating a pocket which can harbor bacteria. Because gum disease is one of the most common causes, it is important to visit a dentist if you’re having problems with halitosis. This is one of the cases where halitosis acts as a symptom for a more serious problem. If left untreated gum disease can lead to tooth decay and eventually tooth loss.
Halitosis after eating a particular food is also very common. Not every case of halitosis has some mysterious cause. If you ate a burger with onions or a garlic pasta chances are you may experience halitosis for up to a day or two after. When we eat food is broken down into tiny particles. Brushing, flossing and rinsing can get rid of and neutralize a lot of these particles, but chances are a few (scent intact) will remain.
Halitosis can be caused by certain bad habits. If you smoke or chew tobacco you shouldn’t expect to have the freshest breath. Excessive alcohol consumption can also cause halitosis.
As you can deduce from a figure cited earlier, 10% of all cases of halitosis do not originate in the mouth. In these cases halitosis is often a symptom of a more serious problem. If after visiting a dentist or changing your oral hygiene routine you don’t notice any changes in your condition, or if your halitosis is accompanied by other abnormal symptoms you should consider seeing a doctor about your halitosis. Some of these other causes include:
A respiratory illness. If you’re suffering from bronchitis or pneumonia there is a chance that you may experience some halitosis because of the bacteria in your lungs.
Acid indigestion or heartburn can also cause halitosis.
Sometimes halitosis can originate in the tonsils. Tonsil stones are an accumulation and calcification of bacteria on the tonsil that can carry an unpleasant odor. Similarly if you have strep throat the bacteria on your tonsils can cause bad breath.
Treating Bad Breath
Now that we’ve discussed all the unfortunate ways you can find yourself blessed with halitosis, how do you get rid of it?! Depending on the cause, halitosis is often fairly simple to treat. Remember that absent any special conditions halitosis should not occur given that you consistently maintain your oral health. As with many other dental complications halitosis can result from the accumulation of plaque that leads to bacterial growth. Preventing this is easier than you’d think! Remember your good dental habits!
If your bad breath is caused by periodontal disease it is crucial that you treat it at its source. Depending on how severe the case of gum disease, it is either treated by a more vigorous oral hygiene routine or a surgery to reduce the size of the gum pockets. You can prevent gum disease by brushing twice a day and flossing once.
Clean your tongue! Try using a metal or plastic tongue scraper to gently scrape the surface of your tongue. These work by scraping away the layer of bacteria that resides on many peoples’ tongues. If you don’t have a tongue scraper than simply brush your tongue with your toothbrush.
Drink plenty of water and rinse with it after a meal. That’s right, just simply swigging a little water after that onion can do a lot. Staying hydrated can also prevent dry mouth, one of the other common causes of halitosis. If you have moderate dry mouth try chewing a stick of sugarless gum. It helps stimulate saliva production.
Mouth wash makes a difference! Swish a little before bed and when you wake up in the morning. An antibacterial mouthwash helps prevents your mouth from harboring bacteria.
Call Dr. D’Alfonso of Lakeway Center for Cosmetic Dentistry if you find yourself uncomfortable in close situations! Tell that halitosis goodbye.