How Halitosis is Diagnosed and Treated

Bad breath: It can happen to anyone and has happened to many of us. Research shows that 50 percent of adults have suffered from halitosis — the medical term for bad breath — at some point in their lives (and those are just the people being honest). Oakton Dental Center of Oakton, VA would like to offer you some suggestions on how you can prevent and fight bad breath.

What Causes Bad Breath?

Halitosis has a number of possible causes. Although most of these breath-foulers are harmless on their own, some of them can be lead to or be a warning of more serious issues on the horizon.

Bacteria
Our mouths are alive with (mostly harmless) bacteria because your mouth acts as a natural hothouse that allows them to thrive. Whenever you eat, these hungry bacteria feed on the remnants of food and sticky plaque remaining on your teeth. Their digestive process leaves behind a foul-smelling waste product that is one of the primary causes bad breath.

Dry Mouth
Another possible cause of halitosis is that your mouth may not be producing enough saliva. Saliva is important to fresh breath because it constantly washes out your mouth. If your mouth isn’t making enough saliva, it isn’t being cleaned as much as it should be. Dry mouth can be a side effect of certain medications, breathing through your mouth or a symptom of untreated salivary gland problems. Getting enough water to stay properly hydrated is crucial to preventing a dry mouth. Doctors recommend drinking 2 liters of water (eight 8 ounce bottles per day) for proper hydration.

Gum Disease
A constant sour taste in your mouth or persistent bad breath that will not go away can be a warning of advanced gum disease. Gum disease is when your gums become irritated and inflamed by a buildup of hardened plaque — tartar — at the gum line. 

Medical Conditions
While you may know that gum disease and other mouth and tooth infections can cause bad breath, other medical conditions can also bring it on. If your dentist has ruled out gum disease, tooth decay or other oral health issues and you brush and floss every day, your bad breath could be the result of a medical issue. Conditions such as sinus infections, gastric reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney disease could be showing their presence in your mouth. See your healthcare provider as soon as possible if your persistent bad breath does not have a medical cause. 

How Can I Prevent Bad Breath?

Brush and Floss
Brushing twice daily and flossing at least once a day will help you rid your mouth of bad breath causing bacteria. It will also help prevent tooth decay, gum disease and the problems that come with it.

Take Care of Your Tongue
You should always clean your tongue while you’re brushing your teeth. If you stick out your tongue, you’ll see a white or brown coating at the very back. That’s the area where much of the bacteria that cause halitosis accumulate. Use your toothbrush or a tongue scraper to remove this film off your tongue.

Mouthwash
Using over-the-counter mouthwash can neutralize some of the bacteria and temporarily mask your bad breath but it will be back sooner or later. The longer you wait between brushing and flossing, the more likely you will be to have bad breath.

Keep Saliva In Your Mouth
If you regularly eat healthy foods that require a lot of chewing, such as carrots or apples and stay hydrated, you should have plenty of saliva in your mouth. Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candies can also help. If these suggestions do not fix the problem, your dentist may also recommend artificial saliva.

Schedule Regular Appointments With Your Dentist
If you’re in the Oakton, VA area and you’re concerned about what might be causing your bad breath, schedule an appointment to see Dr. Abbas Ahrabi at Oakton Dental Center. Regular check-ups will help Dr. Ahrabi to spot any minor problems such as gum disease or dry mouth and stop them before they become more serious. If your mouth is healthy but you still have bad breath, you may be referred to a medical doctor for an examination. To schedule a consultation at Oakton Dental Center, call (703) 382-6789 or make an appointment online.