Bad breath happens. We’ve all had it, and shared it – ever eat garlic fries at a Mariner’s game?
But having chronic bad breath is something else. Halitosis, medical speak for bad breath, is actually the 3rd most common reason patients seek dental care. Right after tooth decay and gum disease.
Halitosis is like the bad gift that keeps on giving. Unlike “morning breath” or a strong smell that lingers after eating those garlic fries, halitosis remains for an extended amount of time. It’s something that mints, mouthwash and even a good brushing can’t solve. And it may be a sign of something more serious.
So, what’s behind your chronic bad breath? Your lingering bad breath could be a result of several causes.
Dry Mouth – The health of your teeth and your breath rely on your saliva. Consider your spit as your mouth’s unsung super-hero. When it flows properly, your saliva rinses and removes unwanted leftovers from your mouth, helps break down food when you eat and provides disease-fighting substances to help prevent cavities and infections. Chronic dry mouth is a condition that diminishes your saliva and leads to dental issues like cavities and on-going bad breath. It can be caused by medications (allergy medications, etc.), certain medical conditions (diabetes, acid reflux), alcohol, tobacco and recreational drug use or even drinking too much caffeine. Fortunately, if you do have dry mouth, there are some specific dental remedies we can provide – please scroll down.
Mouth, Nose and Throat Infections – According to the Mayo Clinic, nose, sinus and throat issues that cause postnasal drip can also contribute to bad breath. Bacteria feeds on mucus your body produces when it’s battling something like a sinus infection, or nasal congestion from an allergy, leaving you with the sniffles and bad breath.
Dental Issues – Having cavities and deeper pockets around your teeth from gum disease also give bad breath bacteria extra places to hide in your mouth. Places that are difficult for you to properly scrub out when you brush between your teeth. This will contribute to your on-going halitosis.
Treating Bad Breath
Have you been dealing with chronic bad breath? If so, there’s good news for you, and anyone near you. It can be treated. There are some things that you can do to help improve your breath, and there some things we can do.
Crank Up Your Oral Hygiene – When you have dry mouth, you need to be even more diligent with your toothbrush. Use fluoride toothpaste and brush your teeth with a soft-bristle toothbrush, for 2 minutes, after each meal and snack. And don’t forget to floss.
Tip 1: Use a Waterpik Water Flosser – Bacteria that cause gum disease live below the gumline and can promote a volatile sulfur compound that’s responsible for bad breath. We recommend Waterpiks a lot to promote better gum hygiene, which will also help reduce bad breath!
Brush Your Tongue! – Your tongue is like a zoo for bacteria that promote bad breath. Carefully brushing it can help reduce odors. People who have a coated tongue from a significant overgrowth of bacteria (from smoking or dry mouth, for example) may benefit from using a tongue scraper, or use a toothbrush that has a built-in tongue cleaner.
Stay On Top of Your Teeth Cleanings – Don’t miss your routine cleanings. Plaque build up not only leads to tooth decay and cavities, it’s also one of the biggest causes of bad breath because it harbors smelly bacteria. Having your teeth regularly cleaned will help keep your teeth healthy and reduce bad breath.
Give Your Saliva a Hand – Try keeping your mouth moist and give your hard working saliva a boost. How? Stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Rinse your mouth with water when you can after snacks or meals, or use a prescribed or over-the-counter moisturizing spray whenever your mouth feels dry. Eat more tooth friendly foods that can stimulate your saliva flow.
Try an In-Office Fluoride Rinse – If you’re dealing with dry mouth, you may be getting more cavities than normal, or you’re more likely to get them, so you could benefit from a little extra protection like a fluoride rinse during your office visit.
Tackle Your Plaque with an Anti Cavity Mouth Rinse – If your bad breath is due to a buildup of bacteria (plaque) on your teeth, we may recommend a mouth rinse that kills the bacteria. An alcohol-free mouthwash, such as Biotene Oral Rinse helps specifically for dry mouth, and also removes cavity causing plaque.
Use a Prescription Toothpaste – If your halitosis is due to having chronic dry mouth, we might suggest a prescription strength toothpaste that we can provide for you right here at our office. It will reduce your dry mouth symptoms that also promote bad breath, while protecting your teeth from cavities.
As your friendly neighborhood dentist, we’re here to keep your teeth healthy, and help make Burien an even brighter place (with your shiny smile). We’re also here to help support the local air quality, keeping it clean, by helping our patients have the freshest breath in town.
If you suspect that you might be dealing with dry mouth, or some other issue that’s causing bad breath, we can help diagnose and treat it. Please call us for a consultation at (206) 242-0066 or request an appointment online.