What Causes Halitosis? - Smile Dental Center

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woman holding toothbrush, covering her mouthHalitosis, also known as chronic bad breath, affects many adults. A lack of proper oral care is often the cause. As mints and mouthwash do not lessen its presence, professional dental care becomes necessary to address the issue.

What Is Halitosis?

Halitosis is different than “morning breath”. It lingers after brushing and is not easily resolved by common solutions. The smell is often strong enough that someone you’re talking to comments on it – a source of worry for those who suffer from the condition.

Bacteria on the teeth and tongue is a frequent cause of halitosis. This condition can be an early sign of tooth decay, gingivitis, periodontitis or dry mouth.

Not every instance of bad breath is halitosis. The odor may be reflective of another health condition, including kidney or liver disease, sinusitis, diabetes or a gastrointestinal issue.

Causes of Halitosis

Insufficient oral hygiene is another frequent cause of halitosis. Food particles or residue from a beverage remain in the mouth, causing bacteria to break it down and generate an unpleasant odor. Brushing, flossing regularly and staying hydrated can help combat halitosis.

Halitosis can also occur in conjunction with or indicate another medical condition that’s affecting your mouth, including:

  • Nose, mouth, sinus and throat infections resulting in postnasal drip
  • Dry mouth, when not enough saliva is produced
  • Having a foreign object stuck in the nasal cavity
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Certain cancers and metabolic disorders
  • Ketoacidosis
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Aspiration pneumonia, resulting in food particles and liquids settling in the lungs

Certain lifestyle factors can also contribute to the development of halitosis, such as:

  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • Crash dieting
  • Eating large amounts of onions and garlic
  • Medication side effects, resulting in dry mouth or the release of certain chemicals

Treatment for Halitosis

Aside from seeking medical treatment for the health conditions listed above, you can meet with a dentist to undergo an oral exam and discuss your dental history.

A dentist can assess various factors potentially causing halitosis. After your tongue is scraped, the sample may be tested for levels of sulfur and bacteria-produced enzymes.

Generally, a treatment plan for halitosis may entail:

  • Better Oral Hygiene: Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss twice a day and keep your mouth hydrated with water and sugar-free gum. You may also be asked to reduce certain habits contributing to dry mouth, like drinking coffee or smoking.
  • Antibacterial Products: Your dentist may also prescribe a toothpaste and mouthwash with antibacterial properties.
  • Frequent Oral Checkups: Schedule a checkup and professional dental cleaning at least twice a year.
  • Treatment for Gum Disease: Beyond professional dental cleanings, your dentist may start you on a treatment plan to address gum pockets, gingivitis or periodontitis.

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