Chronic bad breath, or halitosis, is a particularly frustrating problem for many people and can cause embarrassment, especially in social settings. This frustration grows when you ramp up your oral hygiene routine or spend money on new oral care products promising fresh breath and don’t see any results.
The truth is halitosis isn’t usually a standalone issue. Rather, it is often a symptom of a bigger problem. This is why changing your brushing habits or using super strong, minty mouthwash may not help. Until you figure out the underlying issue and get treatment, your halitosis will stick around.
Here are the answers to five common questions about halitosis.
Halitosis is the medical term for bad breath, or more specifically, chronic bad breath. It’s a preventable condition, but diagnosing it isn’t as simple as saying, “Yep, you have bad breath!” This is because halitosis is often a symptom of another oral health issue.
It’s normal for breath to not smell the best in the morning before brushing or after eating certain foods, but if your halitosis lingers throughout the day every day, there’s definitely something else going on.
Halitosis is a common symptom for many different issues. For this reason, it’s important to consult your dentist even if you believe you know the underlying cause.
Some of the most common reasons for halitosis include:
As you can see, some of these potential causes are easily addressed, while others are much more serious. Gum disease is often the culprit when an adult takes good care of their smile but is still experiencing bad breath.
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, often causes halitosis.
Periodontal disease is a multistage oral health issue that affects millions of adults, particularly adults age 30 and above. It begins as gingivitis, a state of superficial gum inflammation, and gradually develops into periodontitis. Periodontitis can cause devastating damage to your smile if left untreated, which is why catching symptoms early on is important!
Halitosis can occur during every stage of gum disease, including mild cases of gingivitis. The reason it happens is because bad bacteria get trapped under the gumline, and the gums react by becoming irritated and inflamed. The inflammatory response causes swelling, and without professional dental treatment, the bacteria become trapped in these pockets and reproduce unchecked.
Later stages of gum disease can lead to especially terrible halitosis—not only because of bacteria but also because of infection.
In many cases, yes! Since bad breath is often a symptom of an underlying oral hygiene problem or an untreated oral disease, once the cause is treated, the halitosis will stop.
In rare cases, solving bad breath isn’t quite as simple. An example of this is halitosis linked to dry mouth caused by a necessary medication. If you’re unable to change your medication, your dentist will provide other solutions to combat your dry mouth and manage any related symptoms, like halitosis.
If you’re struggling with halitosis right now, here are three things you can do to regain control.
Firstly, take a look at your current dental care routine. Are you brushing twice a day and flossing at least once daily? Do you brush for a solid two minutes each time using the proper technique? What oral care products do you use?
Start brushing your teeth morning and night (if you don’t already), and consider brushing after major meals as well. Floss daily, but be sure to also floss whenever you feel like you might have food stuck between your teeth. Your oral care products should all be approved by the ADA and designed for gum health or plaque prevention. Scraping your tongue will also help maintain fresh breath.
Once you upgrade your dental routine, think about any changes that have happened recently that could coincide with your halitosis. Did you start taking a new medication or herbal supplement? Has your diet changed drastically? Are you pregnant or experiencing a significant change in hormones?
Your physical health and oral health are directly connected, and that means that what happens in your body can affect your mouth. Sometimes your dentist will team up with your general practitioner to find solutions for managing certain health factors.
Last but not least, always call your dentist whenever you experience any adverse symptoms, including halitosis. Even if you believe your bad breath could be from not brushing enough, it’s still important to have your smile checked out. Remember, issues like gum disease can show very few symptoms at first, and only a dentist will be able to spot the early warning signs.
It’s normal for breath to be less than fresh after waking up or having a garlicky meal, but if yours is lingering despite proper oral hygiene, it’s a sign of trouble. If you’re experiencing halitosis on a regular basis, see your dentist for an evaluation.
The First Dental Associates team provides a judgment-free zone for patients to express their oral health concerns, including bad breath. We can schedule a time for you to come in for an evaluation to examine your teeth and gums, talk with you about your symptoms, and identify any underlying causes.
You can schedule your evaluation today by calling our Reading, Massachusetts, office or by requesting a visit online.