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What is Halitosis and How Do I Fix Bad Breath?

Halitosis is the medical term for poor oral health leading to an unpleasant odor from the mouth considered beyond the levels of social acceptance. It is characterized by several defining factors including: oral hygiene habits, the food we are consuming, but most importantly, underlying medical conditions, like periodontal disease. According to the American Dental Association some studies have found potentially 50 percent of the adult population has suffered from halitosis.

Poor oral hygiene involves not washing the mouth properly after meals. It allows the food particles to remain stuck between the gingival (gum) tissue and the teeth. Those particles are further broken down by the naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth, releasing chemicals that have a strong unpleasant odor. Certain bacterial thriving on the back of the tongue interact with amino acids in food and generate unpleasant sulfur-like odor.

Cartoon graphic with a mouth breathing a green bad breath cloud.

What causes bad breath/halitosis?

Dryness of Mouth:

Saliva, the secretion from salivary glands, works primarily to keep our mouth and oral tissues moist. Saliva also cleanses food particles from our mouth. But certain cases, such as smoking, salivary gland infections, medications, and so on, can result in low saliva flow, drying out the mouth and increasing the risk of bad-smelling breath. The term ‘morning breath’ commonly used to describe bad breath after waking up from sleep, is typically attributed to dryness of mouth as our mouths produce much less saliva while we sleep.

 

Oral Disease:

Various oral diseases that include tooth decay, periodontal diseases, mouth sores, dental plaques can contribute to halitosis. If an individual does not clean and address surgical wounds from a tooth extraction properly, that too can give rise to bad breath.

 

Oral Health Maintenance:

One of the most important factors for cause of bad breath is improper maintenance of oral health. This can include: irregular brushing, lack of flossing, improper cleaning of dentures or going years without a proper dental check-up. A combination of these factors can make the mouth a breeding ground for bacteria that provokes terrible breathe and an unpleasant taste that can linger in your mouth for a long time.

 

Foods or Diets:

Due to the nature of this condition, it can be amplified by particular foods. A few examples of foods that can cause bad breath include: garlic, onion, exotic spices, fish and acidic beverages such as tea and coffee. Some of these items can leave behind a lingering odor and can potentially stain your teeth as well. Certain diets that are low in carbohydrates might cause the body to burn fat as its energy source, leaving behind ketones which can cause your breath to produce a fruity odor.

Halitosis is most commonly associated with periodontal disease (gum disease). The most predictable method of treatment for halitosis, or bad breath, is a deep cleaning combined with a regiment of prescription mouth rinse. Although the source of the issue can differ, therefore an exam is typically needed to diagnose the underlying causes. Dr. Jared Schmitt

How Do I Fix Bad Breath?

Dentists, like our Dr. Jared Schmitt, are typically the ones who can help diagnose and treat halitosis. But the treatment is completely dependent upon the cause of the condition. Dentists carry out a thorough oral examination to determine the root cause. Once the underlying cause has been determined, the dentist will then provide the proper treatment plan for the patient.

  • The foremost step to fix bad breath is to know the cause. Maintaining good oral hygiene, taking good care of your mouth, regular brushing and flossing will help prevent stacking up of food residue and plaque build-up, which in turn will curtail the development of periodontal diseases.
  • The American Dental Association suggests brushing twice a day with a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Often times, we tend to overlook the aspect of cleaning our tongues. The back of the tongue is one of the areas in which odor-causing bacteria can thrive. It is vital that we not only practice good oral hygiene when it comes to our teeth but also provide focus on our tongue and gums as well when brushing.
  • We must keep our mouth hydrated. Drinking an ample amount of water daily not only can help assist in reducing the impact of bad breath by making sure your mouth does not dry out. As mentioned above a dry mouth can impact your breath as saliva helps to keep particles from building up too densely. Furthermore, drinking water is vitally important for your bodies overall health as well.
  • Chewing gum can help aid in reducing halitosis as well, as the act of chewing helps breakdown pent up debris and also helps produce saliva which will aid in the process of clearing particles from your teeth.
  • Eating fruits and vegetables, such as carrots and apples, involves thorough chewing which also helps to keep your saliva moving and breakdown stagnant food particles.
  • Abstaining from tobacco products can greatly impact bad breath but also your body overall. Smoking has been shown to stain teeth as well as develop a condition known as ‘black hairy tongue’. 
  • Visiting the dentist on a regular basis and going through a regular oral check-up plays an important part specifically in fixing bad breath and keeping good oral health in general. This can also facilitate in finding solutions to a variety of gum diseases, infections and dry mouth. If your mouth remains dry most of the time, dentists often prescribe artificial saliva. It works in cleansing the mouth and getting rid of unpleasant breath.
  • Change your toothbrush. The Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) suggests replacing your toothbrush every three to four months or whenever it begins wearing down. Toothbrushes can collect bacteria overtime and bristles can wear down and therefore not provide as thorough of a cleaning. 
  • The seal of American Dental Association Acceptance (ADA) should be checked while shopping for oral hygiene products. This seal indicates the scientific evaluation of the product and that the product is safe and beneficial.

Determining the cause encompasses a thorough medical history, including detailing a list of supplements and medicines. If you are experiencing chronic halitosis and believe there could be an underlying issue, please feel free to stop by our office today to consult with Dr. Schmitt about his periodontal dentistry services in North Palm Beach. We know teeth are not the only factor when it comes to your oral hygiene. You’ll be happy to know you are in good hands with Dr. Jared Schmitt and the Seaglass Dental Care staff. Give us a call at (561) 581-5001 or stop by our office at 384 Northlake Blvd, North Palm Beach, FL 33408 to book an appointment.