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Halitosis or Bad Breath

Halitosis or chronic bad breath

Halitosis or chronic bad breath remains for an extended amount of time and may be a sign of something more serious. It is something that breath mints, mouth-rinse or a good toothbrushing can’t solve. Unlike “morning breath” or a strong smell that lingers after a tuna sandwich, halitosis won’t go away!

What Causes Halitosis?

Dental Issues: Pathologic Bacteria (as opposed to good bacteria) that hide in cavities and deeper pockets from gum disease.

Mouth, Nose and Throat Infections: According to the Mayo Clinic, nose, sinus and throat issues that can lead to postnasal drip may also contribute to bad breath. Bacteria feeds on mucus your body produces and the end result can bad smell.

Dry mouth: Saliva is extremely important to your health; It rinses and removes unwanted leftovers from your mouth, helps break down food when you eat and provides disease-fighting immunoglobulins to help prevent cavities and infections. If you don’t make enough saliva, one sign may be halitosis. Dry mouth can be caused by medications, certain medical conditions, alcohol use, tobacco use or excessive caffeine.

Smoking and tobacco:  Not only do many tobacco products leave their own odor on your breath; they can also dry out your mouth. Smoking also contributes to gum disease which can also add to halitosis.

Other chronic conditions: While halitosis is most often linked to something happening in your mouth, it may also be a sign of gastric reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney disease.

Handling Halitosis

First, start by following a healthy daily dental routine in normal or recommended manner – brush twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth once a day. Other things, like drinking plenty of water, chewing sugarless gum and cutting back on caffeine may also help get your saliva flowing and boost the freshness of your breath.

If you notice your bad breath persists, you need to check in with your dentist. Together, you can track down what the cause may be. With a proper cleaning and exam, your dentist can help rule out any oral health problems and advise you on next steps,  treatment plans to take care of cavities or gum disease or refer you to a medical provider to follow up if dental etiology is ruled out and you still having a persistent issue.

Centre for Preventative Dentistry, Oral Health and Wellness