If you have tooth decay, gum disease or some other dental problem, there are plenty of clues. But one of the most common is something that patients are always reluctant to discuss. While toothache, inflammation or bleeding are easy to discuss, it can be embarrassing to talk about bad breath or halitosis. But to a dentist, this is just another symptom that can help identify a root cause. So let’s take a deep breath and face halitosis head-on.
Causes of Bad Breath
There are numerous possible causes of halitosis. Some stem from dental problems, some from other medical conditions and some are due to lifestyle choices. For example, smoking and not drinking enough water can both cause bad breath but are not related to medical or dental health conditions.
A foul smell from the mouth is a symptom of tooth decay, so if your halitosis has only come on recently and you have not made any lifestyle changes, this is certainly a possible cause. Bad breath can also result if you do not follow effective oral hygiene practices. Failure to brush and floss your teeth, or doing so ineffectually, allows plaque and other deposits to build up, and these can have a distinctive and unpleasant smell.
Seeing Your Dentist About Halitosis
There is only one certain way to establish whether your bad breath is caused by a dental problem, and that is to discuss it with your dentist. Be ready to answer some questions about your condition, including how long it has been going on, whether the smell has changed or worsened and if there are any other symptoms you have noticed, such as swollen or bleeding gums. Also, be prepared to give an honest account of your dental hygiene habits.
Treatments for Bad Breath
The information you provide, along with what the dentist sees during an examination, will help to identify whether there is an issue with your teeth or gums that is causing bad breath. The exact remedy will depend on what the dentist discovers, but if, for example, there is tooth decay present, it can be resolved by removing the decay and installing a filling. Alternatively, the dentist might refer you to the hygienist, who can provide some advice and coaching on how to step up your oral hygiene routine.
Common Questions in Halitosis
There are several possible causes, and your dentist can help you work through them to find the answer. It could be as simple as needing to improve your brushing and flossing technique. Alternatively, there might be an underlying problem, such as tooth decay or a sinus infection that is causing your bad breath.
Yes, certain foods like garlic and onion contain sulphuric compounds that tend to get absorbed into the tongue. The result is an odour that is long-lasting and less than pleasant. Dairy products can also be a prime offender here, as the amino acids tend to react with the bacteria that naturally occurs on your tongue.
Maintaining good oral hygiene and ensuring you drink enough water are both powerful tools in avoiding bad breath. However, if the problem persists or gets worse, you should speak to your dentist, as tooth decay or a gum infection could be causing the problem.
We have all heard the expression “morning breath”, but if yours is particularly severe, there are some likely causes that you can address. The phenomenon occurs due to bacteria building up in the mouth while you sleep, but what you need to identify is where that bacteria comes from. The enzymes in your saliva will break down any food particles left on your teeth overnight, so brushing and flossing correctly before bed is essential. Dry mouth is another common cause of morning breath. Drinking water as soon as you wake and trying to sleep in a position that makes it comfortable to breathe through your nose can both help here.
That depends on what is causing the problem. If you have bad breath, you should speak to your dentist first, especially if the problem is recent or is getting worse. If a dental problem is the root cause, the dentist will then be able to help you put it right. If there are no obvious dental causes, you will have ruled that out and can then look at other potential reasons, such as lifestyle and diet.