Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is an oral health condition characterized by a bad odor in the mouth beyond socially acceptable norms. It can arise from many different causes, and it’s not only treatable, but it’s also preventable.
Halitosis affects about 1 out of 4 people worldwide. One research study that combined the findings of 13 medical journal articles determined that it affects about 31.8% of the population.
At Riverdale Dental Arts, Dr. Sheldon Kupferman and his staff promote good oral health in all its forms, including identifying and treating cases of chronic halitosis, and educating you in how to prevent its recurrence. Here’s what you need to know.
Causes of chronic bad breath
There are many causes of bad breath, including the following:
Poor oral hygiene
Probably the leading cause of chronic bad breath, poor oral hygiene refers to insufficient or ineffective at-home brushing and flossing, and neglecting twice-yearly in-office dental exams. When food particles remain in the mouth, they serve as a breeding ground for bacteria, which form a sticky plaque on the teeth, gums, and tongue. After a time, the plaque can cause both an unpleasant taste in your mouth and an unpleasant odor.
Improper denture cleaning
As with failing to clean your teeth regularly, failing to clean your dentures can lead to the buildup of bacteria, fungi, and rotting food particles, all of which cause bad breath.
Odor-causing bacteria on the tongue
Bacteria on the back of the tongue interact with amino acids in foods, producing smelly sulfur compounds. It’s important that you clean your tongue each day along with brushing and flossing your teeth.
When the gums become infected and inflamed, they produce bad-smelling breath and an unpleasant taste. You need to see your dentist ASAP about the condition, or it can progress to bone infections and tooth loss.
Dry mouth (xerostomia)
When the production of saliva decreases, the mouth can't flush away bacteria and food debris as easily. Dry mouth can be caused by a salivary gland disorder, by not drinking enough, by side effects of some medications, or by always breathing through your mouth instead of your nose.
What you eat affects your oral health, including your breath. Garlic, onions, and strong spices like curry are absorbed into the bloodstream. Until they’re excreted, they have the potential to affect your breath.
All tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and snuff, stain the teeth and put your entire body at risk for many serious diseases.They’re also a leading cause of bad breath.
What can I do about my chronic bad breath?
What steps you take to correct the problem (or prevent its recurrence) depends in large part on what’s causing your bad breath.
If bad breath is due to poor oral hygiene, Dr. Kupferman reviews proper brushing and flossing techniques with you, as well as reinforces the importance of coming in for regular checkups.
If extensive plaque buildup is to blame, Dr. Kupferman may recommend an antimicrobial mouth rinse. He may also advise you to brush your tongue gently, or use a tongue scraper, every time you brush your teeth to remove odor-causing bacteria.
If underlying gum disease is responsible, Dr. Kupferman performs scaling and root planing, a procedure that reaches below the gum line, removing plaque and hardened tartar that’s causing inflammation and the characteristic bad odor of infected gums.
If you’re noticing a bad taste in your mouth, and/or someone else is commenting on your not-so-fresh breath, it’s time to come into Riverdale Dental Arts so we can determine the underlying cause and implement the appropriate treatment. Give us a call or book an appointment online with us today.