Bad Breath / Halitosis

If you don't brush and floss regularly, plaque, which contains bacteria, and particles of food, remain in your mouth that can cause bad breath. Many of these bacteria can also live on your tongue and further back in your mouth so make sure you brush your tongue as well as your teeth.

People who wear dentures that are not cleaned properly also can harbor odor-causing food and bacteria. Cigarettes, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco can be major bad breath offenders. It's best to avoid the use of all tobacco products.

Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth is one of the warning signs of gum disease. With regular check ups your dentist can detect and treat gum disease in the early stages. Remember to brush and floss regularly. If you have any questions about your bad breath ask your dentist.

What Causes Bad Breath?

What you eat affects the air you exhale. Certain foods, such as garlic and onions, contribute to objectionable bad breath odor. Once the food is absorbed into the bloodstream, it is transferred to the lungs, where it is expelled. Brushing, flossing and mouthwash will only mask the bad breath temporarily. Dieters may develop unpleasant bad breath from infrequent eating.

If you don't brush and floss daily, particles of food remain in the mouth, collecting bacteria, which can cause bad breath. Dentures that are not cleaned properly can also harbor odor-causing bacteria and food particles.

Bad breath is also caused by dry mouth (xerostomia), which occurs when the flow of saliva decreases. Saliva is necessary to cleanse the mouth and remove particles that may cause bad breath. Dry mouth may be caused by various medications, salivary gland problems or continuously breathing through the mouth.

Tobacco products cause bad breath, stain teeth, reduce one's ability to taste foods and irritate gum tissues. Tobacco users are more likely to suffer from periodontal disease and are at greater risk for developing oral cancer.

Bad breath may be the sign of a medical disorder, such as a local infection in the respiratory tract (nose throat, windpipe, lungs), chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, liver or kidney ailment. If your dentist determines that your mouth is healthy, you may be referred to your family doctor or a specialist to determine the cause of bad breath.

What can I do About Bad Breath?

Regular checkups will allow your dentist to detect any problems such as gum disease, a dry mouth or other disorders that may be the cause of bad breath.

Regardless of what may be the cause, good oral hygiene is essential. Brush twice a day and clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners. Brush your tongue, too. If you wear dentures, be sure to remove them at night and clean them thoroughly before replacing them the next morning.