From time to time, most of us will deal with spats of bad breath on occasion, whether due to something we ate, going too long without brushing the teeth or some other minor issue. However, some others deal with issues of chronic bad breath, also known as halitosis – and individuals in these situations may not only deal with poor breath odor more often, but may also be exposed to a few other risks as well.
At Bright Side Dental & Orthodontics, we’re happy to offer a wide variety of general dentistry services in addition to specific areas like dental crowns or implants, braces, teeth whitening and numerous other services. We’ve assisted many clients dealing with temporary bad breath or even significant halitosis symptoms, allowing them to maintain fresher breath while also avoiding any additional dental risks that come with halitosis or its causes. Here’s a primer on what tends to cause halitosis, what will happen if you’re looking for a specific halitosis diagnosis from your dentist, and general treatment or home remedy recommendations for halitosis.
Halitosis Definition and Typical Causes
As we noted above, halitosis is the medical term for chronic bad breath. Generally speaking, bad breath is considered halitosis if it’s a regular condition that can’t be solved by temporary breath fresheners, such as mouthwash, brushing or mints. It should not be confused with morning breath or simple bad breath that might come after eating something with a particular odor.
There are several potential causes of halitosis, including each of the following:
- Dental problems: Cavities, gum disease and other forms of decay allow bacteria in the mouth additional areas to harbor, and this can create several issues – including bad breath. Over time, these pockets allow for bacteria to embed itself in ways that will be difficult for even brushing or flossing to remove, and this often leads to halitosis. Strong brushing and flossing habits will generally stop this from happening, however.
- Dry mouth: Saliva plays a major role in your breath and other oral health areas, including rinsing the mouth and fighting cavities. If your body doesn’t create enough saliva, halitosis is sometimes a result.
- Infections: Various mouth, nose and throat issues may also lead to bad breath, including those that cause postnasal drips.
- Smoking or tobacco: Tobacco products are harmful to your health in several ways, and one of these is the potential to leave an odor in the mouth while also drying it out. Smokers are also more susceptible to gum disease.
- Other conditions: In other cases, halitosis will be a sign of diabetes, gastric reflux condition, or various liver and kidney diseases.
Dental Appointment and Diagnosis
If your bad breath issues have become significant and you fear you’re dealing with halitosis, you may want to visit your dentist to have the condition evaluated. Here are a few basic preparation tips for this visit:
- If possible, schedule your appointment in the morning, where there’s a lower chance that food you’ve eaten through the day will artificially impact your dentist’s exam.
- Do not wear any perfume, cologne, lotions, lipstick or other scented products to your appointment, especially those around the face or head, as these may mask odors.
- Before scheduling, check with your dentist if you’ve taken any antibiotics in the last month – it may be necessary to reschedule based on which ones you’ve taken.
During this appointment, your dentist will perform a basic physical examination that involves smelling the breath from your nose and mouth, plus may ask you several questions: When your bad breath began, how often It’s present, what your dental cleaning habits are, what your eating habits are, and whether you have any health conditions or medications. They will also ask about allergies or sinus problems, plus whether you can think of any other specific causes of your bad breath that may be contributing.
In some cases, a special detector may be used to identify chemicals responsible for the bad breath, if applicable.
Possible Treatment Recommendations
If your dentist confirms a halitosis diagnosis during your appointment, their first universal recommendation will be to improve oral hygiene practices like brushing and flossing consistently. If halitosis is being caused by an underlying medical condition like one of the ones we mentioned earlier, your dentist may refer to you a primary care provider or specialist.
In addition, your dentist may recommend a few basic treatment methods. These include specialized toothpastes or mouth rinse products that are meant to kill bad-breath bacteria, including antibacterial properties. In severe cases of halitosis, those also leading to gum disease, you may be referred to a periodontist, or gum specialist.
However, as your dentist will inform you, much of fighting bad breath – including halitosis cases – involves basic day-to-day practices. These include:
- Brush after eating: If you’ve had bad breath issues, brushing after every single meal is a great resource. Bring a toothbrush to work or in your car so you always have one available, and brush with toothpaste containing fluoride. This will remove bacteria that may be attracted by food particles in your teeth.
- Brushing tongue: When brushing, be sure not to forget about your tongue. The tongue is often a top location for bacteria, so keep it brushed and clean regularly. Some toothbrushes have built-in tongue cleaners.
- Hydration: Drink lots of water while avoiding tobacco, coffee, soft drinks and alcohol, all of which can dry out the mouth.
- Cleaning: If you wear dentures, bridges or any other dental appliance, be sure to clean these thoroughly at least once a day to avoid bacteria buildup and potential halitosis.
- Diet: Avoid onions, garlic and other high-odor foods, plus those with too much sugar, as this may cause bad breath.
- Dental checkups: Schedule and attend regular dental checkups.
For more on identifying and dealing with halitosis, or to learn about any of our family dentist or emergency dentist services, speak to the staff at Bright Side Dental & Orthodontics today.