Halitosis: Chronic Bad Breath
|Table of Contents|
|What can cause halitosis?|
|What are the symptoms of halitosis?|
|How to prevent and treat chronic bad breath?|
By John Baker
If you suffer from chronic bad breath, known as Halitosis, or just get bad breath from time to time, you may be doing the wrong things when it comes to oral hygiene. Halitosis can be a result of improper dental habits and can be an early symptom of other serious health issues.
Halitosis is characterized by consistent poor breath and is estimated to be the third most common reason for visiting a dentist (the first two are tooth decay and gum disease). The most common causes of bad breathe are a result of the food we eat, lack of saliva (or dry mouth), unhealthy lifestyle or from various medical and dental disorders. It is said that 25% of the population is affected by halitosis.
Bad breathe can be broken down into two categories; transient and persistent. Transient bad breathe is usually eliminated through oral hygiene or a specialized mouthwash. However persistent bad breath is a more serious condition.
Up to 80% of cases of bad breathe, originates within the mouth. The severity of halitosis can also depend on the time of day. The odor is commonly worse after you wake up because the mouth has less opportunity to be exposed to oxygen during the night.
What can cause halitosis?
It is important to be aware of the causes of bad breath in order to prevent them in the future. What causes bad breath:
Tobacco: Smoking causes bad breath due to the chemicals found in cigarettes. The tar and Nicotine in each cigarette builds up in your mouth and stick to your teeth, gums and tongue. The chemicals also build bacteria in your mouth, causing chronic bad breath. Additionally, smoking dries out your mouth, which leads to odorous breath. It is important to note that smoking can also yield serious oral hygiene problems such as gum disease and oral cancer.
Dry Mouth: When there is not enough saliva circulating the system, there is nothing to wash away excess food particles and bacteria in the mouth. As a result, a dry mouth yields an unpleasant smell.
Infection: Bad breath can actually be a sign of an infection elsewhere in the body. If you suffer from chronic bad breath, and have ruled out an oral problem, see your doctor and see if it is a result of something deeper.
Diet: As foods are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream they continue down to the lungs and are given off in your breath.
Improper dental Hygiene- By neglecting your daily oral hygiene routine, food particles promote bacteria growth around the mouth which can result in bad breath.
What are the symptoms of halitosis?
Some of the most common symptoms associated with bad breathe are:
- A persistent bad odorous smell
- Dry mouth
- A bad taste in the mouth
- A coating on the tongue
How to prevent and treat chronic bad breath?
Bad breath can be cured by the usage of brushing teeth, mints, and gum. Sometimes, even washing your mouth with a liquid can help. These remedies only rid you of bad breath for the short term. In order to get rid of chronic bad breath, an antimicrobial mouthwash will do the trick. Flossing regularly also cures and prevents bad breath, by cleaning the mouth of bacteria and excess food particles.
Fluoride can also serve as a remedy against bad breath. Fluoride is a natural mineral that shields and strengthens teeth, and prevents them from getting cavities. It is best to begin using fluoride from a young age, but too much of it can actually damage teeth for good. Hence, it is essential to find out if the tap water in your area has fluoride in it. If your local area’s water is lacking fluoride, ask your dentist to recommend you some fluoride tablets.
Following a thorough and consistent oral hygiene routine is imperative in order to hinder and prevent bad breath. Brushing teeth, at least twice a day, is essential and using mouthwash, floss and fluoride tablets are effective as well. It is also important to make sure that you replace your toothbrush every so often. Sometimes, when toothbrushes are left out for too long they get a mold-like smell and are actually carrying bacteria.
As one of New York’s best dentists, I recommend changing your toothbrush once a month and brushing three times daily. I also recommend purchasing little ‘to go’ toothbrushes to have with you at all times. After all, you never know when bad breath might hit, and so being prepared is key.
In most cases, your dentist can treat and cure the cause of your bad breath. It is imperative to visit your dentist regularly for full dental exams and teeth cleanings. This way your dentist can detect symptoms of gum disease or early cavities which cause bad breathe to occur, at its earliest stages. By catching these symptoms early you can help prevent them from developing into serious dental or medical conditions.
Health Problems Associated With Bad Breath
Frequent halitosis can be an early symptom of serious health related disorders and should be treated as quickly as possible. Bad breath can be an early sign of periodontal disease, dry mouth or dental cavities.
1. Periodontal disease is a result from plaque and the bacteria around the mouth. This bacteria causes harmful toxins which can irritate the gums.
2. Dental cavities result from plaque and tartar buildup, which works to breakdown tooth enamel and spread decay throughout the mouth.
3. Dry mouth (also referred to as xerostomia) can lead to serious dental diseases if not treated. Saliva flow helps clean out the teeth and gums of leftover food particles which can develop into bacteria. It works to neutralize acids which have been produced by plaque.
4. Other medical disorders which can result from persistent halitosis are pneumonia, sinus infections, respiratory tract infections, diabetes, acid reflux or kidney issues. That is why it is imperative to see your dentist if you have been experiencing chronic bad breath.
When to see your doctor for bad breath?
In a majority of cases of halitosis, good oral hygiene can help prevent it. If you are practicing proper oral hygiene and your bad breath persists it is important to consult with your dentist for advice. In many cases your dentist can help eliminate the issue.
If you have been experiencing any of the following symptoms, it could be time to visit your dentist:
- Frequent cases of dry mouth or lack of saliva
- Development of a fever
- Experiencing pain while eating or swallowing
- If you have recently been put on a medication
- Sores in the mouth
- White spots appear on the tonsils
- Have had recent dental surgery
Tests to detect halitosis
When halitosis develops into a serious issue, there are several tests your dentist or doctor will perform to assess the causes and severity of the condition. Some of the tests include:
1. A detailed survey of the patient's dental and medical history
2. X-rays and full oral examination will be conducted.
3. A halometer will be used to measure volatile sulfur compounds in the breath.