The Good News About Bad Breath
By Dr. Anasinski
Bad breath or halitosis is unpleasant, embarrassing and can negatively impact the way people around you respond. So what is the good news in that?
The good news about bad breath is that it is your body’s way of telling you that there is something going on that it doesn’t like. It can be as simple as microbial deposits on your tongue (especially the back of your tongue) where particles of food have collected under a bacterial coating and are decaying, leaving a bad odor in their wake. Simply brushing your tongue can often take care of the unpleasant odor.
However, some of the reasons behind bad breath can be more serious. For instance, xerostomia (dry mouth) occurs when there is a decrease of saliva in your mouth because saliva plays an important role in cleansing your mouth of particles that cause odor. Salivary gland problems, consistently breathing through your mouth or even medications can be the reason for the xerostomia. If dry mouth is the cause of your bad breath, your dentist can help by prescribing artificial salvia or other suggestions that can help minimize the condition.
Bad breath is also one of the indicators of periodontal or gum disease which is caused when bacteria attack the tissues around your teeth often resulting in gum irritation and infections. Or halitosis could be a sign of a more serious medical condition such as gastrointestinal disturbances, liver or kidney ailments, diabetes, chronic sinusitis or chronic bronchitis. Then again, unpleasant odors from your mouth could be the result of the choices you are making when it comes to what you are eating, or if you are smoking or your daily oral hygiene habits.
Your dentist or Periodontist is the best person to help you identify the cause, and if it is because of an oral condition, he or she will develop a treatment plan to help you combat the condition. If your dentist determines that your mouth is healthy and your oral hygiene practices are good, you may be referred to a doctor to further investigate the possible cause. Let your dentist or Periodontist know if you are taking any over-the-counter or prescribed medications because they could be contributing to your breath problems.
Developing and maintaining good oral hygiene is the first step in eliminating halitosis that is being caused from the foods you eat or other conditions that exist in your mouth. Brushing your teeth, gums and tongue at least twice a day (once in the morning and once at night before going to bed), plus using floss or an interdental cleaner to clean between your teeth once a day will remove any plaque or food debris that is present. If you wear dentures, remove them before going to bed and thoroughly clean them each morning.
Using sugary breath mints can actually contribute to tooth decay which contributes to bad breath, and cosmetic mouthwashes typically do not have a long-lasting effect. Your dentist can recommend a special antimicrobial mouth rinse or a fluoride mouth rinse that can work with your brushing and flossing routine to help prevent tooth decay and keep your mouth healthy and fresh smelling.
If you identify a bad breath problem, the good news is that by working with your dentist or Periodontist you will be able to find the cause behind your halitosis and be able to bring your mouth and body back to being healthy and your breath back to smelling sweet.