We all want to put our best selves forward. When we notice that we have bad breath we want to get that corrected, and fast! “Bad Breath” is clinically known as halitosis. In dentistry, we use the word halitosis as a term synonymous with bad breath. But don’t be alarmed, you likely are not alone. Through numerous studies, The American Dental Association has concluded that at least 50% of adults have had bad breath at some point in their lives.

Periodontal Disease and Bad Breath

There are many reasons people experience halitosis, most are harmless but sometimes it can be a warning sign for something more serious.

When patients ask “Why does my breath smell?”, we as clinicians have to take into account many factors and possibilities. Sometimes bad breath can be as simple as poor oral hygiene or home care. Lack of brushing and flossing causes the accumulation of bacteria and plaque in the mouth to flourish. This can lead to gum disease which can cause bone loss, gum recession and loose adult teeth. All of these factors may lead to more bacteria and plaque accumulation and create a viscous cycle that leads to periodontal disease.

What causes bad breath?

Many foods and drinks contribute to bad breath. Coffee, milk products, onions and garlic may all cause a lingering bad taste or smell in your mouth and on your breath but luckily, all are harmless.

Additional causes of halitosis aside from poor oral care include medical conditions such as sinus infections, diabetes, and acid reflux. Most patients are aware of their medical conditions and may be on medications, however, many patients do not realize that under the fine print “side effects” their medication may cause dry mouth. Xerostomia or “dry mouth” is a lack of saliva. Saliva is helpful for many reasons which include but are not limited to:

  • removing food debris and plaque away from your teeth
  • beginning the digestive process of your foods
  • aids in swallowing and mouth lubrication

Xerostomia allows bacteria to thrive and populate which can lead to gum disease, decay/cavities, which also adds to bad breath.

Smoking and tobacco use can and does cause halitosis and is far from harmless. Smoking and chew not only causes major staining of the teeth and even sometimes your tongue, the tobacco and heat of smoking irritates the gum tissues and decreases blood flow, which increases your risk for gum disease and the lack of ability to taste. Aside from bad breath, the main concern for tobacco use is the risk factor of being more prone to oral cancer.

The last category of things that may cause bad breath include something very benign such as tonsillolith, also known as tonsil stones. These can be removed by gargling with salt water, gently expressing the stone out with a cotton swab, or a dental professional can remove them for you too.

Solutions for Bad Breath

Our goal at Floss Dental Boutique is to educate our patients so they have the tools to have a healthier mouth, which leads to improved overall health. Below are a few simple tools and tricks that you can do to achieve better breath and better overall health:

  • Toothbrushing and flossing twice a day (or if you don’t like flossing, water flossing is another alternative)
  • Mouthwash (we recommend a non alcohol version) to help avoid dry mouth
  • Try eating healthy foods such as carrots or apples. They require a lot of chewing which will help stimulate your saliva glands decreasing dry mouth.
  • For patients that smoke/vape or use tobacco the best thing you can do for your bad breath and overall health is to quit. Easier said than done, however, we are here to help. You can also visit 1-800-QUIT NOW for free assistance.

With just a few simple tips like the ones listed above not only can you improve your bad breath, but you can improve your smile and overall health too!