Bad Breath (Halitosis) What is it, What Causes it and What can we do about it.

Published on December 4, 2018 by Walter J Jankowski DMD

Bad breath is known medically as halitosis.  It is commonly a result of poor oral hygiene and may be a sign of other health problems.  If you don't brush and floss your teeth daily the food particles remain forming plaque promoting bacterial growth on the teeth gums and tongue.  This bacteria releases sulfur containing compounds that result in bad breath.

Persistent bad breath may be a warning sign of periodontal disease.  Periodontal disease is caused by the body's immune system fighting the build up of bacteria leading to an autoimmune response that leads to tissue destruction such as bone  loss around the teeth.

Other dental causes of bad breath include poorly cleaned dental appliances, dental caries and a tongue that is not cleaned.  

Dry mouth (Xerostomia) can also cause bad breath.  We need saliva to moisten the mouth, neutralize acids produced by the bacteria in the plaque.  Dry mouth is cased by medication, salivary gland problems or mouth breathing.  Another source of bad breath can occasionally result from small stones that form in the tonsils that produce odor.  Disease such as some cancers, metabolic disorders and chronic stomach acid reflux.

How do we  prevent bad breath?  First of all practice good oral hygiene, brush after you eat, brush your tongue when you brush your teeth.  Also, floss once a day and rinse with an antibacterial rinse.  If you have dentures  remove them every night and clean them thoroughly. See your dentist regularly.  He or she will perform an oral exam and find oral problems before they become major issues such as cavity detection, periodontal disease and/or dry mouth.  Stop using tobacco based products.  Your dentist can help you stop.  Drink plenty of water.  Remember people with low saliva production lack the enzymes to neutralize the acids produced by the bacteria and the saliva also helps rinse the mouth that would help prevent the odors from starting.