Education | Bad Breath

Bad Breath

Bad breath, or halitosis, is an embarrassing condition that has varying medical and oral causes.  The most common cause of bad breath is poor oral hygiene.  With proper brushing and flossing the bacteria can not adhere to food on the tooth surface and therefore the odor will not be present.  Remember it is important to brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper to remove all bacteria that collects in the papilla.  You can get a tongue scraper from Dr. Porterfield’s office at your next dental hygiene appointment or from your local drugstore.  It is also essential to get regular dental cleanings or prophylaxis.  These professional cleanings are designed to clean where brushing and flossing simply can not reach.  If you have removable appliances including dentures, partial dentures, and orthodontic devices be sure to properly clean them per the instructions you received when you were given the appliance.  These appliances can build up bacteria and hold odors if not cared for as well.  If you have any questions regarding hygiene on your appliance contact our office, as certain appliances require specific care.

There are various other oral conditions that cause bad breath.  Decay, gum disease, and dental infections are some causes of bad breath.  Cavities have a very distinct odor.  If food becomes trapped in the decay, bacteria will accumulate and begin to smell as well.  If you experience dry mouth syndrome, or xerostomia, you may have bad breath.  This occurs when you have a decrease in the amount of saliva.  Saliva is necessary to cleanse the mouth naturally and to remove particles that may cause odors. It is always best to schedule an appointment to have any concerns addressed.

What you put in your mouth affects the air you exhale.  Certain foods contribute to breathe odor.  Brushing and flossing will only temporarily mask these odors because the food is absorbed into the bloodstream, transferred to the lungs, and then expelled.  Occasionally, dieters may develop unpleasant breath from infrequent eating.  Tobacco products cause bad breath and can lead to other dental problems.

Bad breath may be a sign of a medical disorder such as a sinus infection, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, stomach, liver, or kidney ailments.  If Dr. Porterfield finds that your mouth is healthy and you are not on any medications that may be altering your breath, you may be referred to your family doctor or to a specialist to determine the cause.