Halitosis (Bad Breath)
DR. ANDY SHIH
Majority of people will have halitosis, or bad breath, at some point in their life. For some people, they suffer from it chronically.
The most common cause of bad breath is the build up of food particles between teeth, on the tongue, and around the gums. When the bacteria in our mouth interact with the food particles, it produces an unpleasant odor and smell, leading to bad breath.
Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth can be warning signs of periodontal disease (gum disease). It may also be the cause of xerostomia (dry mouth) caused by medical conditions and side effects of certain medications. Once diagnosed, there are ways to help alleviate symptoms of dry mouth.
Other causes of bad breath can be related to the consumption of certain foods (raw onions and garlic), as well as the use of tobacco products.
Lastly, bad breath may also be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as respiratory tract infection, sinusitis, and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Ruling out your dental health as the source of bad breath can be done by your dentist. A referral to a medical physician may also be necessary and helpful.
Signs of Halitosis may include:
- Sour, bitter, metallic taste in mouth
- Dry mouth, thicker saliva,
- White coating on tongue
- Extra post-nasal drip or mucus in throat
Treatment of Bad Breath Caused by Oral Health Issues
It all starts with meticulous oral hygiene at home, via proper brushing and proper flossing. Using a special tongue cleaner to clean the surface of your tongue can also help. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help produce saliva - both water and saliva help wash away excess food particles.
It is important to note that most conventional mouthwashes do not treat bad breath; they only mask the odors temporarily.
Regular visits for dental cleanings and exams will help detect any problems that may be causing bad breath, such as periodontal disease, dry mouth, or other disorders.
If you are concerned about having chronic halitosis, let me know at your next appointment and we will discuss it in further detail.