Whether you call it bad breath or its technical name halitosis, it's certainly a cause for both concern and potentially embarrassment.
An obvious cause is certain spicy type foods such as onions and garlic. Once the food is absorbed into the bloodstream, it is transferred to the lungs where it is expelled. The odor continues until the body eliminates the food.
Any food can cause bad breath if the particles are not regularly cleaned out of the mouth by brushing, flossing and rinsing. The deteriorating food remnants can create an unpleasant odor.
Dry mouth or xerostomia occurs with decreased saliva flow. This can be caused by various medical conditions as well as side effects of medications. This lack of our mouth's cleaning fluid creates a buildup of bacteria in the mouth and consequent odor. In this situation your dentist may prescribe artificial saliva, increased water intake, and sugarless candy to stimulate saliva flow.
Bad breath could also be a sign of a medical issue. Chronic sinusitis, bronchitis, postnasal drip, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance or kidney problems can be associated with halitosis. If your dentist feels that your oral health is good, they may refer you to your family doctor for an evaluation.
Periodontal disease can also create persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth. Periodontal disease is caused by a sticky bacterial biofilm that constantly forms on the teeth. The toxins created irritate the gum tissue. This can lead to more advanced stage of the disease where the gums and bone can become irreversibly damaged.
So how do you prevent and treat bad breath?
For most patients maintaining excellent oral health is essential to reducing halitosis. A consistent home care regimen is essential. Brush at least twice a day. Brush or use a tongue scraper daily to significantly reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth. And of course there is the daily flossing. Regular checkups at your dental office are also critical to make sure any early signs of periodontal disease are detected. If disease is present, it must be treated aggressively to prevent any chronic deterioration.
Mouthwashes are generally more cosmetic and do not really have a significant effect on the causes of bad breath and act more as a breath freshener. Special antimicrobial rinses may be recommended by your dentist.
Your dentist may have recommendations in terms of a power toothbrush or other oral aides to help you keep that breath nice and fresh.