Halitosis Hysteria: Common Causes of Bad Breath

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No one wants to have bad breath. Whether you’re on a first date, in an important business meeting, or even just in tight quarters on the train, halitosis can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. It also signals certain crucial dental health conditions, so it is an important symptom to take seriously. At our Houston dental practice, Dr. Cindy Flanagan and our team are committed to helping our patients enjoy beautiful smiles, healthy gums, and, of course, fresh breath! We know halitosis is an important issue for many people, and recognize that you might have questions about it. That’s why we’ve dedicated this week’s blog to going over the common causes of bad breath. Once you know the source of halitosis, you can better your breath!

Bad Breath Basics

Do you have halitosis? You might not know it. Colgate Professional explains, “Most people are unaware of the fact that they have bad breath, or ‘halitosis’ as dental professionals refer to it. Actually, one in four people have bad breath…It is estimated that nearly 60 million people will suffer from chronic halitosis in the United States.” It can be tricky to tell if your breath is bad since you can’t really smell it yourself. However, if you have a foul taste in your mouth, chances are, the smell of your breath is also not so pleasant. Plus, if you’re experiencing other oral symptoms, such as discomfort, sensitivity, coughing, or particulate matter stuck in your teeth, you might also want to check your breath.

Common Culprits

Halitosis can be especially difficult to treat because it doesn’t have one clear-cut cause. There are many factors that can affect your breath, and, unless you pinpoint the right one, simply using mouthwash won’t make much of a difference. Some of the sources of halitosis include:

  • Dehydration. Your saliva is an important cleaning agent in your mouth. It helps wash away food debris, and it contains special enzymes that fight decay-causing bacteria. Xerostomia, or dry mouth, is one of the most prevalent reasons patients suffer from bad breath. Mayo Clinic explains, “Dry mouth naturally occurs during sleep, leading to ‘morning breath,’ and it worsens if you sleep with your mouth open.”
  • Decay. The bacteria that erode your enamel, causing cavities, can make your breath smell. If your teeth are sensitive, discolored, or have any other symptoms of decay, we recommend you see Dr. Flanagan as soon as possible for a tooth-colored filling.
  • Gum disease. Those pesky decay-causing bacteria can also infect your gums, leading to gingivitis or, in more severe cases, periodontitis. Halitosis can be a symptom of gum disease. If you suffer from this condition, we recommend seeing Dr. Flanagan, since gum disease can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.   
  • Poor hygiene. In addition to raising your risk for decay, gum disease, and all manner of other dental issues, failing to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once per day can leave food particles rotting in your mouth, causing halitosis. Remember that another important aspect of your dental hygiene is coming to see us at least twice per year for professional cleanings and examinations. These preventive careappointments allow us to teach you better hygiene techniques and catch  any conditions before they worsen.
  • Certain drugs. Medication could be the reason for your bad breath. Mayo Clinic notes, “Some medications can indirectly produce bad breath by contributing to dry mouth. Others can be broken down in the body to release chemicals that can be carried on your breath.”
  • Tobacco use. Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and similar products have their own particular smell. In addition, “smokers and oral tobacco users are…more likely to have gum disease, another source of bad breath.”
  • Specific foods. Eating spicy, acidic, or particularly pungent dishes can temporarily cause bad breath.
  • Sinus and throat conditions. Healthline points out, “Bad breath odor may develop if you have: a sinus infection, postnasal drainage, chronic bronchitis, or an infection in your upper or lower respiratory system. Tonsil stones can also be a source of bad breath because bacteria tend to collect on the stones.”

Of course, this is only a list of the most common reasons for halitosis. There are other dental and systemic issues that can lead to bad breath. This is why it’s particularly important to have your halitosis professionally diagnosed. It can be a sign of general health issues that should be promptly addressed.

Freshening Your Breath

If you’re suffering from bad breath, Dr. Flanagan will create a customized treatment plan to help you resolve it. This will all depend on your particular diagnosis. For example, we may need to treat your gum disease with gingival treatments, increase your daily hydration to remedy dry mouth, improve your oral hygiene regimen, or even send you to a specialist for assistance with respiratory or other types of issues. In any case, we will help you freshen your breath and conquer your halitosis.

Need Help Handling Your Halitosis?

Dr. Flanagan and our team are here to help you! To find out more and schedule an appointment, contact our Houston dental practice today.

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