What Causes Bad Breath? How to Prevent Halitosis
From job interviews to first dates, exhaling an off-putting odour around others when trying to make a strong first impression can sometimes have disastrous consequences. Patients in Abbotsford visit the dentist regularly because of bad breath; bad breath (also known as halitosis) is the third most common motivation for dentist appointments (after tooth decay and gum disease).
But is halitosis actually a medical problem, or is it merely the result of poor dental hygiene? Is it genetic for some and preventable for others? Many of our Abbotsford dental patients ask these questions all the time, wondering if more frequent visits to their Abbotsford dentist office are necessary, if there are household remedies instead or if they have nothing to worry about at all.
What is Bad Breath?
Before you decide on the cure for bad breath that’s best for you, it’s helpful to know exactly what it is.
First of all, bad breath is a symptom, not a disease or a condition. That means that bad breath is always caused by something else and is never an inherent problem. That it’s not a diagnosis is a good sign, but it also means that, in most cases, there are other concerns of dental hygiene.
If you think you might suffer from halitosis, the first thing to do is get examined by a dentist. According to medical studies, as many as 72% of people who self-diagnose as having halitosis either have psychological concerns about bad breath or their bad breath is temporary. On the other hand, about 20% of the general population do genuinely suffer from halitosis to some degree.
So knowing the source of the problem and the extent of it can go a long way in reversing your bad breath for good, whether it’s an ongoing problem or a fleeting issue because of shortcomings in your oral hygiene routine. A professional dental examination in Abbotsford can properly identify specific causes of bad breath and appropriate remedies.
Causes of Bad Breath
For those who authentically suffer from halitosis, about 90% of all causes of bad breath originate in the mouth; the remaining causes of bad breath are known as “extra-oral processes,” which means they exist elsewhere in your body. Of this latter category, in very rare circumstances, halitosis can be a symptom of more serious underlying medical conditions, including liver failure.
Often, however, bad breath is the result of poor oral hygiene, allowing bacteria to fester along your gum lines and on your tongue and thus generating offending odours.
Causes of Bad Breath
1. Dry Mouth
Xerostomia, the medical term for dry mouth, can often create bad breath because a lack of saliva production and lubrication in your mouth allow bacteria to cultivate in your mouth. Moreover, food odours are often temporary because salivary flow washes them away quickly.
2. Gum Disease
A buildup of plaque in your mouth because of a lack of teeth brushing and flossing often creates smelly odours in your mouth, especially when plaque buildup leads to gingivitis.
3. Foods and Drinks
Even with good oral hygiene, certain foods like onions and garlic can create smelly odours. Sometimes their odours can migrate to your lungs through your bloodstream after your stomach processes them, in which case you have to wait for them to go through your system. Sugary foods and acidic drinks like coffee and juices also provide a home for bacteria in your mouth.
4. Extra-Oral Processes
In about 10% of cases, halitosis is caused by factors such as nasal cavities, metabolic disorders (e.g. blood-borne bad breath via dimethyl sulphide) and, very rarely, diseases such as diabetes, lung disease, kidney disease, cancer and respiratory tract infections.
Bad Breath Remedies
For those concerned about bad breath after eating or drinking, brushing and flossing your teeth afterwards can make a huge difference. Breath mints or sprays are also great at momentarily disguising the smell, although they can’t be a substitute for reversing any underlying causes.
Chewing on gum or sugar-free candy can also help to stimulate saliva flow that can reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth—this technique is also helpful for people who suffer from dry mouth.
Be sure to stay hydrated with lots of water, snack on crunchy fruits and veggies and stay on top of your vitamin-C intake to further reduce halitosis-causing oral bacteria.
If your bad breath is caused by gum disease, it’s best to speak with your dentist about devising an oral hygiene that’s suited for you and your needs. A dentist can also be instrumental in leading to a diagnosis of extra-oral causes, such as nasal cavities or metabolic disorders.
Bad Breath Treatment at Clayburn Dental in Abbotsford
The dental professionals at Clayburn Dental in Abbotsford are fully trained and equipped to help identify halitosis and its causes. As well, we can prepare customized treatment plans for your mouth to get your breath smelling fantastic again.
Call us at 604-852-8487 or request an appointment online today.