Over forty-million Americans suffer from chronic halitosis or persistent bad breath. Despite being a million dollar industry, over-the-counter halitosis products are often ineffective.
Before you buy breath fresheners, read this.
Causes Of Halitosis
What causes bad breath? There are a variety of factors, but some major offenders are:
- Food particles remaining in the mouth, collecting bacteria
- Dying bacterial cells, which emit a sulfuric odor
- Pungent foods, like garlic, absorb in the bloodstream and are released by the lungs
- Fasting and dieting
- Dry mouth (xerostomia), due to decreased salivary flow, which helps remove food particles
- Tobacco products, which can also stain teeth, irritate gums, and reduce the sense of taste
- Illness, such as sinusitis, postnasal drip, or a respiratory tract infection
- Medications, such as antibiotics, narcotics, or decongestants
- Gum disease
Persistent bad breath, or a constant foul taste in your mouth, may indicate gum disease.
When food particles remain in your mouth for too long, due to infrequent brushing, bacteria can grow into a sticky, often colorless film on your teeth. The gums surrounding your teeth may become red and swollen, or even tender. Pay close attention to your oral hygiene, brushing teeth regularly. As gum disease becomes more advanced, your gums may pull away from your teeth and form painful pockets of infection, eventually loosening your teeth or leading to removal.
Family Dentist Tips for Treating Bad Breath
Good oral hygiene will generally solve most cases of bad breath. Make sure you brush all surfaces of your mouth, especially your tongue, a notorious culprit for halitosis. Better yet, regular brushing, flossing, and trips to your dentist help control gum disease. If bad breath persists, despite good oral care, it may be time to make an appointment with your dentist. They will determine if any underlying causes, such as gum disease, may be to blame.
If your dentist cannot determine a cause for your halitosis, and your mouth is otherwise healthy, indicating the odor is not oral, but systemic, you may get a referral to your doctor. Some cases of bad breath may point to severe underlying health conditions.
If gum disease is causing halitosis, your dentist may be able to help treat the disease. However, if the gum disease is too advanced, your dentist will refer you to a periodontist, who specializes in cleaning the deep pockets of bacteria that can form as a result.
While many people rely on mouthwash to cure bad breath, these types of treatment often simply mask odors. Dentists can prescribe Zytex, a combination of zinc chloride, thymol, and eucalyptus oil, which can neutralize sulfuric compounds in your mouth and kill bacteria that causes halitosis. Also, there are prescription strength antimicrobial mouthwashes available through prescription.
There are a handful of over-the-counter antiseptic mouth rinses noted by the American Dental Association for therapeutic benefits in reducing plaque and gingivitis, as well as freshening breath.