Halitosis; Do You Smell That?

Nobody wants bad breath. However, millions of people suffer from the condition. Chronic halitosis, which is another name for bad breath, begins in many cases due to a buildup of bacteria in the mouth.

Often, people are concerned about removing bacteria from their teeth. However, oral bacteria also accumulates on the tongue, inner cheeks, gums and oral appliances, affecting the smell of your breath.

Why does bad breath occur?

Bad breath is frequently the result of byproducts of the oral bacteria in your mouth. The anaerobic bacteria that often live in the grooves of the tongue release volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) that give bad breath its characteristic smell. In addition, food particles that are left in the mouth after a meal or snack can begin to rot within the mouth, emitting a foul odor. Additional causes of bad breath include dental infections, odorous foods and health conditions in other areas of the body.

Conditions Outside of the Mouth That Cause Bad Breath

Bad breath is also associated with other medical conditions, such as sinus infections, kidney problems, liver issues and diabetes. In addition, health conditions, treatments and medications that cause a reduction in the amount of saliva within the mouth can exacerbate halitosis. As a result, patients who are undergoing treatments, such as radiation therapy, may incur bad breath more frequently.

Why does dry mouth cause bad breath?

The saliva produced by your mouth helps wash away oral bacteria. Since the liquid keeps your mouth cleaner, it helps eliminate bad breath sources within the oral cavity. When saliva is scarce, your breath is more likely to have an unpleasant odor. This is the reason for morning breath.

Morning breath is often due to the reduction in saliva production that occurs as you sleep. With little saliva to rinse microbes away, the bacteria in your mouth reproduce rapidly, causing your morning breath.

Foods that Cause Bad Breath

Foods can also affect your breath. Some foods, such as onions and garlic, have a higher sulfur content than others. Even though the foods eventually reach your stomach, the odors can be absorbed by your body and released as you breathe.

What can be done to help alleviate bad breath?

Here are a few things that you can do to help improve the smell of your breath:

  • Brush. Brushing your teeth regularly can help decrease the levels of plaque within your mouth. As you brush, it is important to pay attention to the soft tissues of the mouth, such as your tongue, the roof of your mouth and your inner cheeks. My removing bacteria from as many surfaces as possible, you can help eliminate bad breath.
  • Use a tongue cleaner. Although a toothbrush is efficient at brushing the teeth, it is not as thorough as a tongue scraper at cleaning the tongue. The scraper is usually a simple tool made of plastic that is raked across the tongue to remove the build-up of bacteria.
  • Floss. Flossing is particularly important because particles of food that can decay within the mouth often become trapped between the teeth. Flossing also helps eliminate plaque between the teeth before it hardens into tartar. Due to the porous surface of tartar, it can become a haven for bacteria and other odorous substances that can exacerbate your bad breath.
  • Chew gum. Sugar-free gum can help keep oral bacteria at bay, especially varieties that contain xylitol, a natural sweetener that is also antimicrobial. In addition, the fragrance of the gum can improve the smell of your breath as you chew. The sticky nature of the gum also causes it to pull plaque and debris from your teeth and gums. It is especially helpful to chew the gum immediately after a meal or snack.
  • Visit your dentist often. Your dentist can help keep your mouth clean by regularly removing tartar deposits. In addition, he or she can identify the source of your bad breath and recommend a suitable treatment. If your dentist believes that your bad breath is being caused by a systemic condition, you may be referred to another medical professional for treatment.
  • Clean your dental appliances. If you wear braces or have a retainer, keeping these items clean can help improve your breath.

If you suffer from chronic bad breath and believe that it is associated with your braces, contact our office to schedule an appointment.