What is abnormal bad breath?

While everyone has bad breath (halitosis) from time to time, about twenty-five percent of people have frequent bad breath, often caused by a medical condition.

Often, people with chronic bad breath are unaware of it, as their nose usually becomes accustomed to the smell of the mouth.

Chronic bad breath can only be diagnosed by a qualified dental professional.

What causes bad breath?

There are two main causes of bad breath.

The main cause is the natural degradation of bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria thrive in dark, oxygen-rich environments — such as your gums and tongue. Most bad-breath-causing bacteria live in the back of your mouth. Taste buds have a mushroom shape which provides a shady environment where bacteria like to live.

Bad breath caused by bacteria is augmented by poor dental practices. A lack of proper brushing, flossing and tongue scraping allows the bacteria to build up.

Additionally, certain foods can contribute to bad breath. Foods such as garlic and onions — once eaten and absorbed into the bloodstream — cause odors to be transferred to the lungs, where they are expelled upon exhale. This same process also takes place with tobacco products.

The other cause of bad breath — in approximately ten percent of cases — is medical. Certain medical conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes and liver diseases exhibit halitosis as a symptom. Additionally, infections in the sinuses or respiratory tract can cause bad breath.

What can be done about bad breath?

In most cases, proper brushing, flossing, and tongue brushing will alleviate the problem. Also, the avoidance of certain foods can help, too — avoid foods which contain sulfur, such as onions and garlic.

Mouthwashes are not an ideal solution. Most mouthwashes simply cover up the problem temporarily. Alcohol-based mouthwashes can actually dry out your mouth, which makes the problem worse. Mouthwashes which contain chlorine dioxide are preferred. Chlorine dioxide breaks up sulfur compounds.

Do I need to see a cosmetic dentist about bad breath?

Yes. Only a dentist can identify the source of the bad breath. In some instance, if your dentist believes your halitosis is the cause of a medical problem, he or she may refer you to a doctor.

Additionally, your dentist will be able to instruct you in specific dental hygiene practices to help reduce the frequency and strength of your bad breath.

It’s important to note that sometimes bad breath is caused by a medical condition. Only a qualified dentist such as Hollister’s Dr. Mark Darnell can accurately diagnose medical-related bad breath. If you have consistent bad breath, and nothing seems to help, please contact Dr. Darnell today.

Cosmetic dentistry — it truly is something worth smiling about!