• Halitosis–What Is Causing It And What Do I Do About It?

  • We’ve all experienced it at one time or another, either coming from our own mouth or from the mouth of someone near us. Bad breath. What causes it, what are we to do to treat it, and more importantly, how do we prevent it in the future?

    Halitosis can be caused by several things. Among them improper oral hygiene, certain foods and beverages, and systemic issues. In this article, we will review these different causes of bad breath, and what to do to eliminate it.

    Improper oral hygiene is one of the main causes of halitosis. If our teeth, gums, and the rest of our oral cavity are not thoroughly cleaned regularly, and after meals, it will affect our breath. Obviously if our teeth are dirty with whatever we last ate, they will have an odor. If flossing is not happening, then whatever we ate since we last flossed is probably still stuck between our teeth, also producing an odor. We can also clean the inside of our cheeks and the top of our tongue with the toothbrush. This can dramatically reduce mouth odor in a few simple swipes. Of course, mouthrinses can also help with mouth odors, but we should try to avoid relying too much on mouthrinse, but not enough on actual cleaning of our mouths.

    Going along with proper oral hygiene is the hygiene of any oral appliances we may use. Dentures, partial dentures, nightguards, and retainers all fit into this category. Dentures and partials need to be removed every night, cleaned, and soaked. Nightguards and retainers worn at night need to be removed and cleaned every morning. Retainers, dentures, and partials worn all day need to be cleaned after meals, just like our teeth.

    In fact, if our oral health is bad enough, due to lack of proper hygiene or regular dental treatment, and we have progressed to active gum infection, the distinct odor of this infection can be smelled at greater distances than everyday bad breath. Dental decay creates odor, and infected teeth can also cause a bad odor. The fastest way to a fresh mouth is a clean, healthy mouth.

    The food we eat has probably the most obvious effect on our breath. We all know coffee, onions, and garlic cause halitosis. Did you also know that certain spices, certain meats such as pastrami, alcohol, and even orange juice can cause bad breath?

    We all know we are supposed to drink tons of water every day. Oftentimes it doesn’t happen. Well, dry mouth and lack of saliva caused by dehydration or medications is also a cause of bad breath! Not eating often enough can cause less salivary production, and contribute to bad breath, as well. Lack of saliva also promotes tooth decay, but that’s a topic for another article. Just drink your water, please.

    After eating or drinking anything other than water, we are supposed to clean our mouths. This is the way to eliminate bad breath caused by the food we just ate.

    Occasionally, there is a deeper underlying cause of halitosis. Several systemic diseases can actually cause bad breath. If our issue is not resolved by the above simple methods, a trip to the medical doctor may be in order. Bad breath can be caused by diabetes, eating disorders, lung infection, organ disease such as liver and kidneys, and gastrointestinal problems galore. Even upper respiratory infections can be the culprit. While it’s not a systemic disease, smoking clearly also has an effect on our breath. By taking care of the underlying reason for the halitosis, we will effectively eliminate it.

    If you have halitosis, instead of being embarrassed, go see your dentist today. They can spot gum disease, decay, and infections. They can go over your medications and let you know which ones are contributing to dry mouth, and they can ask questions that will let them know if there may be an underlying issue. They can recommend treatment, artificial saliva, various oral hygiene tools, or even a trip to the medical doctor.