What is Halitosis

Chronic bad breath that does not go away with brushing and flossing is called halitosis. Halitosis goes beyond morning breath or bad breath caused by foods and can be a symptom of something more serious. If you are suffering from halitosis, your first step should be a visit to your dentist to see if the problem is simply an oral issue that your dentist can resolve or if it is a sign of a larger problem for which you need to see your general practitioner.

Oral issues that could cause bad breath include cavities, periodontal disease, sinus infections, dry mouth, and an abscess. Underlying systemic problems that could cause halitosis include diabetes, liver disease, or gastric reflux disease. If you visit your dentist and they determine that the cause of your bad breath is not related to anything in your mouth, you should see your general practitioner as soon as possible.

Let’s take a closer look at some halitosis causes.

Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease can cause deep pockets in the space between the gum tissue and tooth structure. These pockets are natural but healthy gums have pocket depths of 1-3 millimeters whereas gum disease can cause these pockets to be deeper. Deep pockets are a great home for plaque and bacteria build up, causing bad breath and tooth decay.

Dry mouth can also cause halitosis. Saliva regularly helps remove food particles and bacteria that can become trapped and cause decay and bad breath. There are a number of medications that can also cause dry mouth as well as medical conditions, alcohol and caffeine consumption, and tobacco use.

Tobacco Use

It is long understood that using cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products has a profound, negative effect on the health of your mouth and whole body. Patients who use tobacco products are more susceptible to gum disease and halitosis due to dry mouth.

Sinus Infections
When the body is fighting an infection, there is usually an overproduction of mucus which can be a breeding ground for bacteria, making illnesses last longer. Sinus infections or other nose and throat illnesses can cause post nasal drip which frequently leads to bad breath and a bad taste in the mouth.

How is halitosis treated?

Oral hygiene is the best way to prevent halitosis. Taking care each day to brush at least twice and floss at least once is a great start, but adding in a tongue scraper can make an incredible difference, especially if you use cigarettes. If you have periodontal disease, your dentist may advise a deep cleaning to help clear out any bacteria hiding in your gum pockets that could be causing bad breath.

If you do find that you still have bad breath even after brushing, it is important to visit your dentist to determine the underlying cause or if you need to consult your general practitioner.

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