Halitosis is the sophisticated word for "bad breath". Depending on the cause, bad breath may strike on occasion or may be a more persistent condition. The most common cause of bad breath is bacteria. Because the mouth is moist and warm, it creates perfect conditions for the millions of bacteria that live in the mouth. In fact, approximately 80% of bad breath is caused by something in the mouth.
Bad breath caused by bacteria in the mouth can easily be treated. Brushing your teeth, tongue and gums after meals as well as flossing and rinsing with mouthwash will usually take care of the problem. Regular visits to the dentist should be made for dental examinations and for professional teeth and gum cleaning.
Some types of bad breath, such as "morning mouth," are considered fairly normal and are not usually health concerns. However, persistent bad breath may be a sign of more serious problems with the gums and teeth.
Bad breath may be caused by the following:
- Poor dental hygiene - poor oral hygiene can leave food particles to decay in the mouth
- Infections in the mouth such as periodontal (gum) disease
- Respiratory-tract infections such as throat infections, sinus infections, lung infections
- External agents including foods such as garlic, onions, and coffee, as well as cigarettes and chewing tobacco
- Dry mouth caused by salivary gland problems or by breathing through the mouth
- Systemic illnesses such as diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, lung disease, sinus disease, reflux disease and others
Call our office promptly if you have bad breath with painful, swollen gums that bleed easily or loose teeth. We will perform a physical examination of your mouth to determine the cause. If we discover that systemic problems are the cause, we may refer you to your family physician. In severe cases of gum disease, we may recommend a doctor specialized to treat gum disease called a periodontist.