Dental Library- Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Halitosis, or bad breath, is one of society's great social stigmas. It can affect relationships and even your self-confidence. Chewing gum, mouthwashes and other products are available to mask bad breath, but they don't get rid of it.
Halitosis may be caused by food and stomach problems, but the most common
source of bad breath is a high level of bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria
accumulate on your gums, your tongue, throughout your mouth causing bad
High levels of bacteria can be triggered by sinus or allergy problems, or by medications that cause dry mouth, or by medical conditions such as diabetes. Though saliva helps rinse away bacteria, while you're sleeping saliva production shuts down, which has given birth to the phrase - "morning mouth".
Your dentist can find the cause of bad breath by studying your medical history and examining your mouth. The problem may then be treated by cleaning your tongue or by using special toothpastes, gels or solutions.
Bad breath can usually be managed with regular brushing and flossing and regular dental cleanings. Keeping your tongue clean of bacteria, drinking plenty of water, and keeping your mouth moist will also help stop bad breath, as will stopping smoking.
Bad breath can be caused by several dental conditions and infections. Therefore, proper diagnoses and treatment of dental infections can significantly reduce bad breath. Any abscessed tooth that is draining into the mouth is a source of foul smelling puss that is filled with bacteria that can be eliminated through proper dental treatment. Root canal therapy treatment in combination with antibiotics will eliminate the infection and therefore the source of the foul smelling bacteria. If the tooth is nonrestorable then extracting the tooth along with antibiotics will allow the infection to resolve.
Bad breath can also be caused by gum, or periodontal, infections. As with abscessed teeth gum infections will cause foul smelling bacteria containing puss to drain into the mouth. This is also a highly treatable source of bad breath. In fact reducing the bacterial load in the mouth is not only good for reducing bad breath it also reduces other systemic diseases that oral bacteria are associated with and exacerbate. For more specifics see our web page on gum disease. Having soft tissue management therapy that includes scaling and root planing, a Rotodent, fluoride therapy, and two to three month continuing care visits will alleviate gum infections and therefore reduce this as a source of bad breath.
Reducing the overall bacterial load in the mouth is key to controlling bad breath and should be accomplished through thorough daily home care, professional cleanings, regular routine professional continuing care and monitoring of the sulfur producing bacteria, the ones that cause bad breath, in the mouth through a Halimeter. This instrument quantifies the level of sulfur compounds in the mouth showing initial pretreatment levels and post treatment levels so a measurable change can be determined.