What Causes Bad Breath & How to Prevent Halitosis
Want to know what causes bad breath (also known as halitosis)?
How about halitosis prevention?
Let’s dive in with one more question…
Do you find yourself constantly feeling self-conscious of your breath? Halitosis is an embarrassing but very real issue that can affect everything from your social to your private life (maybe even your career.)
Although discussing bad breath with a professional may seem like the best way to get help for halitosis, it can be hard to do. Fortunately, Dr. Bestandji understands and is sensitive to the subject, offering practical advice and proven strategies to help our Princeton dental patients get bad breath treatment that works.
What is Halitosis?
Halitosis itself is the clinical term used to describe chronic bad breath. It’s not just occasional breath malodor, but rather an ongoing condition that affects you on a day to day basis.
What’s it Caused By?
When it comes to what causes bad breath, there can be a variety of different factors to rule out. Some of the most common include:
- Periodontal disease
- Gastrointestinal infections or acid reflux
- Respiratory illness
- The food that you eat
- An imbalanced oral flora
To know what causes bad breath in each individual, our Princeton dentist will want to conduct an oral exam as well as a brief assessment of your personal medical history and dietary habits. Be sure to include any supplements or medications that you take, even if you feel they might not be relevant.
Sometimes the reasons for bad breath are easy to pinpoint, while others require a bit more investigative work. But for the best bad breath treatment, a proper diagnosis is vital!
Is Bad Breath Coming from Your Tongue?
It’s been said by scientists that approximately 90% of all bad breath causing bacteria lie somewhere on the tongue. If you’ve ever examined your tongue’s surface closely, you’ve seen the tiny little papillae that cover it. Each of these small projections can trap food debris and bacteria between them.
If you don’t clean your tongue routinely, all of this biofilm can multiply and lead to halitosis. You may even start to notice buildup that doesn’t wipe away or can’t be cleaned off with a toothbrush.
To prevent bad breath that comes from your tongue, clean it each time you eat. If all you have is a toothbrush, start at the back of your tongue and brush towards the tip. However, the best way to clean it is with a tongue scraper. Again, scrape from the back to the front. The amount of buildup you see on the appliance between swipes may surprise you!
Poor Oral Hygiene
Plaque and tartar buildup are some of the most common bad breath symptoms, because they house the odorous bacteria inside of their accumulations. While plaque is soft and can be brushed or flossed away, tartar (dental calculus) cannot. The only way to get rid of tartar buildup is to have your teeth professionally cleaned by our Princeton dentist or hygienist.
Fortunately, you can prevent tartar buildup from accumulating and harboring the bacteria that cause bad breath. To do so, be sure you’re brushing twice per day (especially near your gums) and flossing daily, including under the gumlines. A water flosser can help if traditional flossing is a challenge.
A lack of saliva can allow overgrowth of certain types of bacteria, which may be one of the reasons for bad breath. Specific medications (especially allergy meds or antihistamines) can leave you dried out, as can various health conditions.
If you notice that you wake up with “cottonmouth” in the morning and that your halitosis is worse during the first part of the day, it might be due to xerostomia. Talk with your doctor to see if you can try a different medication, but in the meantime be sure that you’re getting plenty of water during the day. You can also supplement with dry mouth products designed to moisturize.
Are you using mouthwash, gum, or mints to try to cover up halitosis? Some reasons for bad breath stem from such products without people even realizing it.
For instance, mouthwash that contains drying ingredients like alcohol can lead to an imbalanced oral flora or lack of saliva, contributing to bad breath. Or if you’re frequently popping mints and gums, the sugar inside of them will fuel the plaque biofilm in your mouth, leading to elevated bacterial levels.
Although it might seem obvious, certain foods can and do cause bad breath. While garlic may be an easy one to spot, others are not so noticeable.
Foods like dairy products (including milk and cheeses) or eggs can tend to ferment hours after eating them, including what’s left inside of your mouth if you don’t brush and floss. With time, they come back to haunt you later on in the day.
Even if you brush your teeth and clean your tongue immediately after eating, some of the odors may be coming from your GI tract.
Periodontal (Gum) Infections
Gum disease can cause strong bad breath symptoms that can’t be corrected with regular brushing and flossing. That’s because the infection lies deep along the roots and is caused by necrotic gum tissue. It can only be eliminated with professional gum treatments, such as deep cleanings (which reach well into the gum pockets to remove the odor-causing bacteria.)
Nasal Allergies and Sinus Infections
A “sinus drip” where there’s constantly drainage or mucous accumulating in your upper respiratory tract (including your throat and nasal sinuses) can cause halitosis for as long as the symptoms stick around. If you have chronic allergies, you may need to get them treated instead of toughing it out.
Bad Breath Prevention
When it comes to treating bad breath, knowing how to prevent halitosis is the most important step. Understanding all of these different bad breath symptoms and causes can help you take the first steps in controlling smelly bacteria, dry mouth, and other issues that cause the embarrassing condition.
Halitosis Treatment in Princeton
For private, attentive bad breath treatment, schedule a consultation, cleaning, and exam with Dr. Bestandji at Canal Vista Family Dental.