Halitosis, also known as bad breath, is a common Valentine's Day concern and is thought to affect almost 20% of the population. Halitosis comes in varying degrees of persistence and can be caused by any of the following:
- Ingesting strong smelling foods such as garlic or coffee - Smoking or using other tobacco products - Poor oral hygiene - Oral infections such as tooth decay or periodontal disease - Dry mouth (using certain medications can cause dry mouth and, by consequence, halitosis) - Illnesses such as diabetes, liver disease or kidney disease
The majority of halitosis cases are caused by bacteria in the mouth breaking down food substances that produce foul odors, particularly on the back of the tongue. These cases are simple and can be fixed quickly by improving oral hygiene. Brushing twice a day, flossing once a day and using mouthwash ensures that all food particles are removed from the surfaces of teeth and the tongue which prevents bacterial breakdown of food and bad breath. Tongue scrapers, which can be found at any drug store, can also be helpful at scraping off odor causing bacteria and dead cells from the surface of the tongue.
To effectively eliminate plaque and prevent halitosis, Dr. Dan Laizure highly recommends using unwaxed floss rather than waxed floss.
For patients with dry mouth, either natural or caused by taking certain medications, it's often recommended to chew on sugar free gum containing xylitol which stimulates saliva production to inhibit bad breath. Chewing gum for 20 minutes following meals and snacks is sufficient to help prevent halitosis as well as tooth decay for both patients with and without dry mouth.
While most cases of halitosis can be traced back to oral hygiene, persistent halitosis cases can be more complicated. Not all bad breath smells the same, and the type of bad breath present is often indicative of underlying illness affecting the patient. For example, having persistent "fruity" breath is often a sign of diabetes while having breath that smells like ammonia could mean that the patient is suffering from kidney disease. Many other illnesses such as liver disease and lung cancer can have a particular effect on a patient's breath. If you're suffering from persistent halitosis and believe that it may be caused by another illness, please book an appointment and consult Dr. Laizure as soon as possible. Call us today at (509) 525-4833.