Posts for tag: bad breath
Q: I often seem to have noticeably bad breath — not just in the morning. How unusual is this problem?
A: Persistent bad breath, or halitosis, is a very common complaint that is thought to affect millions of people, including perhaps 25 to 50 percent of middle aged and older adults. It’s the driving force behind the market for breath mints and mouth rinses, with an estimated value of $3 billion annually. It’s also the third most frequent reason people give for seeing the dentist (after tooth decay and gum disease). So if you have bad breath, you’re hardly alone.
Q: Can bad breath come from somewhere other than the mouth?
A: Most of the time, bad breath does originate in the mouth; its characteristic smell is often caused by volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), which have a foul odor. However, it can also come from the nose, possibly as a result of a sinus infection or a foreign body. In some cases, pus from the tonsils can cause halitosis. There are also a few diseases which sometimes give your breath an unpleasant odor.
Q: What exactly causes the mouth to smell bad?
A: In a word: bacteria. Millions of these microorganisms (some of which are harmful, and some helpful) coat the lining of the mouth and the tongue. They thrive on tiny food particles, remnants of dead skin cells, and other material. When they aren't kept under control with good oral hygiene — or when they begin multiplying in inaccessible areas, like the back of the tongue or under the gums — they may start releasing the smells of decaying matter.
Other issues can also contribute to a malodorous mouth. These include personal habits (such as tobacco and alcohol use), consumption of strong-smelling foods (onions and cheese, for example), and medical conditions, like persistent dry mouth (xerostomia).
Q: What can I do about my bad breath?
A: Those breath mints are really just a cover-up. Your best bet is to come in to the dental office for an examination. We have several ways of finding out exactly what’s causing your bad breath, and then treating it. Depending on what’s best for your individual situation, we may offer oral hygiene instruction, a professional cleaning, or treatment for gum disease or tooth decay. Bad breath can be an embarrassing problem — but we can help you breathe easier.
More than 2,000 years ago, an ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, often called the father of Western medicine, devised a mouth rinse of herbs and wine to sweeten bad breath. This problem has been around a long time, and it is still a major problem for many people. According to some studies it is one of the three main reasons people seek dental treatment.
Here are some facts you may not know about bad breath:
- Bad breath is sometimes called halitosis, which comes from the Latin halitus (exhalation) and the Greek osis (a condition or disease-causing process).
- Chronic bad breath is usually caused by certain types of oral bacteria. These particular bacteria are present in about 25% of the population.
- Bad breath has spawned a major industry in the United States. Americans spend nearly three billion dollars a year on gum, mints, and mouth rinses to sweeten their breath. About 60% of women and 50% of men say they use breath freshening products.
- Diseases in the oral cavity such as tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease can often cause bad breath. If either of these diseases are your cause for bad breath, treatment would be necessary to eliminate this problem.
- The tongue is the most common location for bad breath. Bacteria are relatively sheltered on the back of the tongue, where they live on remnants of food, dead skin cells and post-nasal drip. These bacteria can generate volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) that are also found in decaying animal or vegetable matter. VSCs are known by an unpleasant rotten egg smell.
- Bad breath can also be caused by dry mouth (xerostomia). This condition affects millions of people and can result from smoking, alcohol or coffee drinking, and it is sometimes a side effect of medications. Another cause may be mouth breathing.
- Halitosis can also originate in other parts of the mouth besides the tongue. These include inter-dental (between teeth) and sub-gingival (under the gums) areas.
- When people are starving (and sometimes when they are dieting to lose weight), their bodies begin burning their fats causing their breath to develop the smell of ketones — which smell like acetone, similar to nail polish remover. If people are not eating or drinking the coating on their tongue increases as well, making VSCs more prominent.
At our office, we want to fight bad breath or halitosis by making sure our patients understand how to clean their teeth, gums, the back of the tongue, and dentures.
Did you know that Americans spend nearly 3 billion dollars each year on fresh breath remedies including gum, mints and mouthrinses to address their fears of halitosis (bad breath)? This simple fact clearly reveals that Americans are obsessed with having pleasant breath. Some other interesting statistics on this subject include:
- 60% of women and 50% of men say they use breath freshening products like candy, chewing gum and sprays
- 50% of middle-aged and older adults have bad breath
- 25% of the population has chronic bad breath
- 20 to 25% of adults have bad breath due to their smoking habits
However, the best way to determine what is causing your bad breath is to have a thorough dental exam followed by a professional cleaning. The first important step of this process begins when we obtain a thorough medical history. This includes asking you questions so that we can:
- Identify your chief complaint and whether or not your bad breath is noticed by others or just a concern you have
- Learn about your medical history as well as what medications (prescription and over-the-counter), supplements, and vitamins you are currently taking
- Learn about your dietary history to see if pungent foods such as garlic and onions are foods you often eat that are contributing to the problem
- Conduct a psychosocial assessment to learn if you suffer from depression, anxiety, sleep or work problems
- Identify personal habits such as smoking cigarettes, cigars or a pipe that contribute to your bad breath
To learn more about the causes and treatments for halitosis, read the Dear Doctor article, “Bad Breath — More Than Just Embarrassing.” Or you can contact us today to schedule a consultation for an examination, cleaning and treatment plan.
Considering that over 90 million Americans suffer from chronic bad breath and everyone else has dealt with some form of it at one time or another, we want to address some common causes and cures so you are prepared if it happens to you.
What are the most common causes of bad breath?
Halitosis or bad breath most often occurs when you have poor oral hygiene and/or routinely consume odorous foods and drinks. In fact, 90% percent of mouth odors come from the food you eat or bacteria thatÃ¢Â€Â™s already there, according to the American Dental Association. Other causes for halitosis include:
- Excessive bacterial growth in the mouth and especially on the tongue
- Known and characteristically odor producing foods and drinks such as onions, garlic, coffee, tobacco and alcohol products
- Diabetes and diseases of the liver and kidneys
- A poorly hydrated body (and mouth) from not drinking enough water everyday
What should I do if I feel (or people tell me) I have chronic bad breath?
Contact us to schedule an appointment for a proper diagnosis and plan of action for returning your mouth to optimal health.
What are some tips I can do to prevent occasional bad breath?
In most cases, bad breath is totally preventable when you follow the tips below:
- Brush your teeth in the morning and at bedtime using a fluoride toothpaste and a proper (and gentle) brushing technique.
- Floss your teeth at least once a day.
- Clean your tongue after brushing your teeth with either a scraping tool you can purchase at a drug or discount store or by gently brushing it with your toothbrush.
- Keep your mouth moist by drinking plenty of water during the day.
- Be prepared by having some mouth cleaning tools (floss, a toothbrush, toothpaste or some sugar free gum) handy to freshen your mouth after consuming bad smelling foods, drinks or using tobacco or alcohol.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables to increase saliva production in your mouth and help remove food particles that can lodge between teeth.
- Maintain regular dental check-ups.