Bad breath, Halitosis, is a very common problem that can occur at any age. Often it can be difficult to tell whether or not this is a problem for you.
One quick way to tell if you have bad breath is to lick the inside of your wrist. After a few seconds the saliva will dry. If the back of your wrist smells bad then you probably have bad breath.
Below are some of the more common reasons that bad breath occurs:
1. Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)
Gum Disease, Periodontal Disease, occurs in patients when bacteria build up in their mouths. The bacteria form a sticky layer on the teeth and gums called “plaque” which releases toxins that cause inflammation to the tissue. These toxins release invisible, foul-smelling vapors that lead to bad breath.
2. Xerostomia (Dry Mouth)
The saliva is the body’s method of providing moisture in the oral cavity in order to help break down and wash away food debris while also neutralizing acids in the mouth. Anything that interrupts this process will lead to an increase in plaque formation. As noted above, the plaque will release toxins that invade the tissues and cause halitosis. Dry mouth can be caused by a number of different issues including but not limited to certain medications, mouth breathing, or diminished immune systems.
3. Inefficient Oral Hygiene
If you are unable to properly brush and floss your mouth, this will definitely lead to bad breath. While some try to combat the halitosis with mouthwash, this will not work overtime because bacteria actually start to build up a resistance to it. Proper brushing and flossing techniques are extremely important to disturb the sticky layer of plaque that starts to build on the teeth and the gums. One of the important areas not to miss is the tongue. Make sure to brush the tongue as far back as you can. The taste buds on the posterior tongue are large and hold on to bacteria that cause bad breath. Ask your dental hygienist how to brush and floss the right way or you can also watch a video online of how to do this.
4. Cavities in Your Teeth
Cavities in the teeth can happen after bacteria invade and cause damage in the tooth. These pools of bacteria eating at the teeth often are the cause of bad breath and bad tastes in your mouth. See your dentist and with x-rays and a clinical evaluation they will be able to tell you if cavities are present or not.
5. Medical Conditions
There are many medical conditions that can cause bad breath. Diabetes, kidney or liver problems, postnasal drip, yeast infections, and respiratory infections and some examples of illnesses that can produce foul-smelling breath. It is important to see your doctor regularly so that you can manage these conditions and stay healthy.
6. Acid Reflux (GERD)
Often patients will describe having a bitter or sour taste in their mouth. This can be a result of chronic acidity in the stomach and throat that is stimulating regurgitation. This is more commonly known as GERD and it can lead to halitosis. Make sure to eat a healthy diet and if this is a concern of yours consult with your dentist and primary care physician.
What Do I Do if I Think I Have Bad Breath?
Proper oral hygiene in most cases is enough to stop halitosis. The best way to do this is to floss between your teeth daily and to brush twice a day, never forgetting to include the tongue.
See your dentist, dental hygienist or dental therapist first if you still have bad breath after making changes to improve your dental hygiene. There may be an area you are missing but are unaware since it is difficult to always see these small areas.
If after you see the dentist you are still having issues with halitosis, make sure to visit your GP as there may be a medical cause that needs to be investigated.