Halitosis is the sophisticated word for “bad breath.” Depending on the cause, bad breath may happen only occasionally or may be a more persistent condition. The most common cause of bad breath is bacteria. Because the mouth is moist and warm, it creates perfect conditions for the millions of bacteria that live in the mouth. In fact, approximately 80% of bad breath is caused by something in the mouth.
Bad breath caused by bacteria in the mouth can be easily treated. Brushing your teeth, tongue and gums after meals as well as flossing and rinsing with mouthwash will usually take care of the problem. Regular visits to our office for a deeper professional cleaning and exam will also help you.
Most types of occasional bad breath, such as “morning breath” are considered fairly normal and are not usually health concerns. However, persistent bad breath may be a sign of more serious problems with the gums and teeth. Bad breath may be caused by the following:
- Poor oral hygiene, which can leave food particles to decay in the mouth
- Infections in the mouth such as periodontal (gum) disease
- Respiratory tract infections such as throat infections, sinus infections or lung infections
- External agents including foods such as garlic, onions and coffee, as well as cigarettes or chewing tobacco
- Dry mouth caused by salivary gland problems or by breathing through the mouth
- Systemic illnesses such as diabetes, acid reflux disease, liver disease, kidney disease, lung disease, sinus problems and others
In treating bad breath, the dentist will perform a physical examination of the patient’s mouth to determine the cause. If they discover that systemic problems are the cause, they may refer the patient to their family physician. In severe cases of gum disease it is recommended that a patient visit a periodontist, which is a doctor that specializes in treating gum disease.