Most people will have bad breath (halitosis) every so often, but some will have persistent or chronic bad breath. This can be due to poor oral health, or it might be due to illnesses or disease, or even medications. It is something that is frequently made worse through lifestyle choices such as smoking, or eating strongly flavored foods.
WHY DO CERTAIN FOODS GIVE US HALITOSIS?
Food is digested before being absorbed into the bloodstream. Eventually it ends up in the lungs where it is expelled on your breath. If you have eaten strongly flavored foods such as onions or garlic, then these smells will be breathed out through your lungs. This is the reason why these smells can only be temporarily masked with breath mints and mouthwash, and they will not go away until these foods have left your body.
POOR ORAL HEALTH AND BAD BREATH
Food particles and bacteria build up in your mouth throughout the day, creating a sticky film of plaque over your teeth, around the gums, and on the tongue. This needs to be thoroughly removed through brushing and flossing. If it isn’t then the food particles will begin to rot and to smell noxious, while the numbers of bacteria will increase and will produce sulfurous odors.
Persistent bad breath is often a sign of periodontal disease (advanced gum disease). This is where plaque bacteria in the mouth have irritated the gums, causing them to become inflamed and infected. It can also be due to having poorly fitting dental appliances such as dentures or braces, or failing to clean these appliances properly.
MEDICAL CONDITIONS THAT CAN CAUSE BAD BREATH
Halitosis can also be caused by various medical conditions such as xerostomia or dry mouth. This is where the mouth is unable to produce enough saliva to keep it clean and free from disease. Saliva helps to wash away excess bacteria and food particles as well as dead cells that would otherwise rot and cause bad breath. Sometimes dry mouth is a side effect of taking certain medications, or it can be caused by breathing through the mouth, or it might be due to salivary gland problems.
People with certain illnesses and diseases are also more likely to have bad breath. These include respiratory infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia, sinus infections, as well as liver and kidney problems, acid reflux and diabetes.
GETTING A DIAGNOSIS FOR BAD BREATH
It is just about impossible to smell your own breath, so the best thing to do is to ask someone close to you to tell you whether or not you have halitosis. If they confirm your suspicions then make an appointment to visit a dentist at Midtown Dentistry for a proper diagnosis.
Dr. Jonathan Penchas will check your mouth for any signs of oral diseases that could be causing this condition. It’s also a great idea to have your teeth professionally cleaned as this will help remove hardened plaque bacteria, a substance called calculus, helping to keep your gums healthy and freshening up your breath.
TREATMENT FOR HALITOSIS
If your dentist finds you have gum disease, they can devise a treatment plan to help your teeth and gums return to health, or to help manage the condition if your gum disease is chronic. This is likely to include a better oral care regime at home combined with various surgical and nonsurgical treatments as required.
It could be that your mouth is healthy, in which case your dentist will suggest visiting your family doctor as it could be due to some underlying health condition that hasn’t yet been diagnosed. Alternatively it could be due to taking a prescription medication, and your doctor may be able to prescribe an alternative or alter the dosage. If this is the case is important to keep taking your medication until otherwise advised by your doctor.