Bad breath, or halitosis, is a common condition that affects as much as 65 percent of the American population. Millions of those sufferers have chronic halitosis, which is bad breath that persists on a regular basis. Nine times out of ten, the cause of bad breath is in the mouth itself, though in some cases, it can be the result of an underlying health condition.
Common Causes of Halitosis
Poor Dental Habits
Few people follow recommended guidelines for brushing and flossing, which often allows food residue to stay hidden around the teeth, gums and tongue. Combined with the warm and moist conditions of the mouth, this creates a ‘perfect storm’ for bacterial growth, which give-off sulfur compounds that produce a foul odor.
Poor Denture Care
Like the teeth, dentures must be thoroughly and properly cleaned to prevent bacteria from growing. For the denture wearer, it is equally important to clean both the denture and surfaces of the mouth, such as the tongue and the gums where the dentures typically rest.
The mouth naturally produces saliva that helps remove food residue that otherwise leads to bacterial growth. However, some people experience occasional or chronic dry mouth, which can lead to halitosis. Dry mouth may occur as a result of diabetes, cancer treatment and conditions like Parkinson’s disease. In many cases, dry mouth is also a side effect produced by over-the- counter or prescription medications.
A person with gum disease may experience a frequent bad taste in the mouth or become aware of ongoing bad breath. Gum disease occurs when plaque builds on the teeth, harboring bacteria that begin living below the gum line. Since a toothbrush cannot reach these spaces, the bacteria continue to grow, producing foul odor and damaging the surrounding gum tissue.
Like gum disease, tooth decay is a bacterial infection of the mouth that can produce a foul odor if allowed to progress untreated. Sometimes, tooth decay produces no other initial symptoms than bad breath. Allowed to persist, decay may cause irreversible damage and ultimately tooth loss.
Treating Bad Breath
Since halitosis produces an unpleasant odor, most people with the condition initially attempt to manage bad breath themselves – usually with over the counter remedies that merely cover up symptoms rather than treating their cause. Here at Lane Avenue Family Dentistry on the Westside of Jacksonville, Florida, we recommend scheduling an appointment with our office to get to the root of bad breath and eliminate it at its source. For some, this may be as simple as drinking more water, adopting better oral hygiene habits, or perhaps chewing sugarless gum to induce saliva production. For others, dental treatment may be necessary to treat periodontal disease or a decaying tooth.
Whatever the cause of a patient’s halitosis, we are committed to finding the cure. No one should have to be embarrassed by bad breath. If you are bothered by occasional or frequent halitosis, we invite you to contact our office to schedule a consultation. Fresh breath may only be an appointment away.