Bad breath, or halitosis, is defined as an unpleasant odor in the mouth. Despite its simple definition, halitosis is a complicated condition due to a large number of potential causes. As far as medical conditions go, it’s not a new or unfamiliar issue.

According to a recent Smithsonian Magazine article, ancient people around the world spent centuries experimenting with so-called cures for bad breath; scientists today continue to puzzle over the factors that lay behind it. Yet stinky breath continues to mystify us, haunting our most intimate moments and following us around like a green stench cloud.

People often feel embarrassed or anxious because they might not realize that they have halitosis unless another person points it out. A multitude of products on the market claim to promote oral cleanliness and health. Yet many of them are superficial. They provide a temporary fix and don’t address the root of the problem. To accurately diagnose and treat the condition, you should see your dentist.

According to Dr. Steven Lin, the fear of bad breath is a real thing, too: “Dentists have estimated that up to 25% of people who come to them with halitosis are afflicted with halitophobia.”

Not surprisingly, bad breath can cause anxiety, depression and OCD in people who think they have halitosis (even if they’re wrong). They may avoid social situations where they would be close to others. They attempt to treat it by excessively brushing their teeth, chewing gum, or eating mints.

What Causes Bad Breath?

While the list of potential causes is long, the most common are:

• Cavities

• Gum disease

• Food trapped in teeth

• Bacterial growth on dentures

• Incorrect fit of dentures

• Mouth infection or ulcer

• Smoking/chewing tobacco

• Alcohol

• Certain medications

• Stress or anxiety

• Sinusitis

How Can You Prevent Bad Breath?

1. Brush with toothpaste at least twice per day.

2. Try a pre-brushing anti-plaque rinse.

3. After brushing, rinse with a mouthwash containing antibacterial agents, such as chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride.

4. Floss your teeth at least once per day.

5. Clean dentures, bridges, retainers and mouth guards regularly.

6. Avoid certain foods, such as raw garlic, onions and sugary snacks that stick to teeth.

7. Quit smoking or chewing tobacco.

8. Drink enough water to produce a sufficient amount of saliva, since dry mouth can contribute to bacterial growth.
Alcohol, coffee and sodas all can lead to dry mouth.

9. Chew sugarless gum or candy to stimulate saliva production.

10. Replace your toothbrush at least every three to four months for normal wear and tear. Replace it sooner if you’ve been sick, to get rid of bacteria that may still be present on the brush.

If none of your home remedies work, it’s time to visit your dentist in Lutz, FL.

How Do Dentists Treat Halitosis?

First, a dentist will perform a routine exam to look for cavities, gum disease (gingivitis), or infection. They also should note any defective tooth restorations, which can breed the bacteria causing the offensive mouth odor.

Ninety percent of the body’s medical issues are indicated by the mouth. Despite being a somewhat harmless condition, bad breath could be an indicator of a more serious disease or illness. If your dentist suspects this might be the case, they’ll probably refer you to a gum specialist (periodontist) or your primary care provider.

Dental patients might feel humiliated or intimidated when seeking treatment for halitosis. Yet it’s important to follow up with a medical professional to rule out a serious medical condition.