Bad Breath

The medical term for bad breath is “halitosis”. It is very common and affects all of us at one time or another.  Certainly brushing, flossing, and even mouth wash can help remedy this problem temporarily.

There are many things that can cause bad breath .  It can be a result of poor dental hygiene or other health problems.  Also smoking or chewing tobacco can contribute to foul odor.  Certain medical conditions such as  dry mouth (xerostomia) may also be a factor.  Saliva is needed to cleanse the mouth by neutralizing acids produced by plaque and removing dead cells that aggregate on the tongue, gums, and cheeks.   Many medications create dry mouth and therefore using mouth rinses that keep the mouth moist is also helpful in treating dry mouth.

Periodontitis is a disease affecting gums and bone that support the teeth.  It can sometimes be caused by inadequate brushing and flossing.  Plaque is the leading cause of periodontal disease, and it is the bacteria associated with periodontitis that causes bad breath.  In this disease, the irritated gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets between the teeth and the gums. These pockets fill with bacteria which give off a foul odor.

Patients with persistent bad breath should have a complete dental evaluation by one of our hygienists. If gum disease and/or dental decay is diagnosed, it can be treated readily. A gum treatment called scaling and root planning is commonly performed by the hygienist to eliminate the bad bacteria found in deeper gum pockets.  With careful follow up, the patient will no longer have an infection in their mouth. When the infection and decay are gone, it is most likely that the bad breath will go away as well.