Halitosis is an oral health condition characterized by consistently odorous breath. Often identifying the cause of bad breath is the first step toward treating this preventable condition.
What causes bad breath?
There are just as many causes of bad breath as there are sources of bacteria in the
mouth. Halitosis may be caused by the following:
- periodontal disease
One of the primary symptoms of this gum disease is foul, odorous breath, and an unpleasant taste in the mouth. This condition requires immediate care by an oral health professional.
- certain foods
The things you eat contribute largely to your oral health care, including your breath. Items such as garlic and onions, or any food, are absorbed into the bloodstream, become transferred into the lungs, and become expelled in the air you breathe. Until that food becomes eliminated by the body, the potential for it affecting a person’s breath is present.
- poor oral health care
Without proper and consistent brushing and flossing, and routine examinations by your dentist, food remains in the mouth, which is a breeding ground for bacteria, which, in turn, causes odorous breath. Food that is allowed to collect on the teeth, gums, and tongue may cause the gums to rot, which causes an unpleasant odor and taste in the mouth.
- improper cleaning of dentures
Dentures that are not cleaned properly may be collecting bacteria and remaining food particles which cause bad breath.
- xerostomia (dry mouth)
This condition is often a large contributor to halitosis. Characterized by a significant decrease in saliva production, the mouth is unable to cleanse itself and remove debris and particles left behind by food. Xerostomia may be caused by certain medications, a salivary gland disorder, or by continuously breathing through the mouth, instead of the nose.
- tobacco products
Not only do tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and snuff stain the teeth and put the body at risk for a host of diseases, they also contribute to bad breath. Tobacco users also are at an increased risk for the following:
- periodontal disease
- a loss of taste abilities
- irritated gums
- a medical condition
Bad breath may be an indicator or symptom of any of the following conditions. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Consult your physician for a diagnosis:
- a respiratory infection
- infection of the nose, windpipe, or lungs
- chronic bronchitis
- postnasal drip
- chronic sinusitis
- a gastrointestinal disorder
- a liver or kidney disorder
Treatment for halitosis
Specific treatment for halitosis can be determined by your dentist based on:
- the health of your mouth
- the cause or origin of the condition
- extent of the condition
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- your opinion or preference
Treatment for Halitosis will primarily depend on the cause of the condition and can range from changes to home care routine to a regiment of dental cleanings to proper medical treatment.