Bad breath, or halitosis, can be a serious and embarrassing problem for some people. Many cases of bad breath are transient and can be resolved with proper dental care and hygiene but chronic halitosis can have causes other than poor dental hygiene and must be diagnosed and treated accordingly.
Causes of bad breath
- Some foods, e.g. garlic: when food is digested, it's absorbed into the bloodstream, then enters the lungs, and is breathed out. Brushing and flossing are of no use here. This type of bad breath will cease only after the food that caused it has been entirely excreted from the body. A similar situation happens with tobacco, where the smoker's bad breath will not abate until tobacco has been eliminated from the bloodstream.
- Food particles left on the teeth: there are always a certain number of bacteria in the mouth, and this is normal. Good dental hygiene keeps their number manageable. When food morsels are left in the mouth, the bacteria feed on it. Bacteria have their own metabolism, and their excretions cause our breath to smell bad. When food morsels are continually left for too long in the mouth, the bacteria multiply, so there are more and more of them excreting and causing bad breath for us.
- Dry mouth: a continual flow of saliva cleans the mouth, removing food particles to some extent. Insufficient saliva allows those particles to remain longer, encouraging bacteria growth. We all know this type of bad breath as "morning mouth".
- Some medical conditions: an infection in the respiratory system, a postnasal drip, diabetes, and stomach troubles are some examples. Our dental health is often related to our overall health.
Bad breath treatments
If your halitosis is chronic we'll perform a thorough examination of your dental health and of the bacterial content of your saliva.
If dental decay is found to be the cause of bad breath, we will recommend the appropriate dental treatment.
Over-the-counter mouth rinses are effective for only brief periods of time, but there are good dental rinses that we can prescribe for you. We might encourage you to brush your tongue as well as your teeth, especially the back of the tongue.
If the cause of your chronic breath problem is found to be gum disease, it may be treatable by non-surgical methods such as scaling or a laser treatment, or may require periodontal surgery. This would be an individual matter and the treatment would be matched to your exact needs.
In a small minority of cases, we find that chronic breath problems are not dental in origin but are caused by a medical problem. In these cases, we will refer you to a qualified physician who can diagnose and treat the problem.
For more information or to book an appointment at our Tsawwassen, Delta BC dental practice please contact us today.