Dental Care

Halitosis Causes and Treatment

Halitosis Causes

It is simply not possible to give an accurate estimate of how many people have halitosis. 

Some studies say that the number ranges from 35% to 45% of the general population. 

It is a known fact, however, that halitosis -more commonly known as bad breath- is the third-ranking reason why people seek help from a dentist.

First, let's take a look at the top halitosis causes:

  • Poor oral hygiene.  If you do not brush and floss, you will retain food particles in your teeth and gums, and before too long they will begin to decay and inevitably give off a smell. 
  • Regular dental visits are necessary to keep your teeth free of plaque, which can trap bacteria in the gums. 
  • If you have a dental appliance -anything from dentures to a simple flipper- be certain you are cleaning it regularly.
  • Tobacco use.  Smoking is described by many as a "dirty habit," and it's true that when you smoke you carry the smell of it on your breath.  Plus, it dries out your mouth -see below for more on that.
  • Dry mouth.  Certain medications can cause dry mouth syndrome, and some people are just more prone to the condition than others.  Either way, it means that there's not enough saliva to rinse away those leftover food particles and their bacteria.
  • Specific foods.  Whether it's spaghetti sauce or salami, garlic is a primary contributing factor to bad breath. And have you ever heard of coffee breath?
  • Infections.  A rotten tooth can be responsible for malodorous breath, but the infection can be anywhere in the body.  Whether someone has pneumonia, sinusitis, diabetes, or problems with the liver or kidney, bad breath can be an indicator of poor health.
  • Pitted tonsils can accumulate a white substance, possibly food detritus, that's a culprit for halitosis. 

Nobody has bad breath for long without knowing about it.  Someone is always happy to pass on the embarrassing news!  The easiest way to control bad breath is to perform a daily regimen of good oral hygiene. 

If you do that, you automatically eliminate one potential cause of bad breath; so if the problem persists, you can explore the other halitosis causes. 

This is also a good place to point out that many of the halitosis causes listed above have something to do with food trapped in the mouth.  Keep in mind that the digestive process begins there.  If you are not completely eliminating food residue from your teeth, gums, and tongue, then you can expect it to give off an unpleasant odor. 

Getting Rid of Halitosis

Getting rid of halitosis is as simple as addressing the causes listed above.  Once you discover which of them has affected your breath, you can attack the problem at the source. 

  • Do begin completing a regular, complete oral hygiene regimen.  When you're brushing your teeth-twice a day!-don't forget to give your tongue a good scrubbing.  You can also use fluoride rinses to prevent tooth decay.
  • Dental floss is often overlooked, and it is important to get your teeth and gums completely free of collected foodstuffs.  Floss at least once a day.
  • Mouthwashes are great for temporarily freshening the breath, but antimicrobial or antiseptic rinses are even better.  But you don't have to spend big bucks for a great product-just grab a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, the same kind you use to rinse out cuts, for about fifty cents.  Gargle with it, rinse it around your mouth for at least a full minute, and spit it out.
  • Use antacids to reduce foul-smelling belches from the stomach.  Halitosis caused by stomach problems is very rare, however, except in the case of extreme GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disorder) or a hiatal hernia.  This is probably a good place to mention, by the way, that the much-maligned helicobacter pylorus bacteria often found in the stomach is not in itself a cause of bad breath; but when its presence is found in the mouth, it is often associated with poor oral hygiene. 
  • If you are one of those people affected by dry mouth (the medical name for this condition is xerostomia), then make it a point to drink fresh water throughout the day. 
  • Have your doctor evaluate you for chronic sinus infections.  There are other conditions as well, such as diabetes, Sjogren's syndrome, and other medical conditions that result in bad breath.
  • You can use breath fresheners or even gum.  If you use chewing gum, choose a sugarless product to protect your teeth from decay. 


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