We all have experienced bad breath at some time, but most people are not aware of what will cause bad breath. Without understanding the cause of bad breath, it is difficult to identify the correct solution to remedy this problem.
Some people might only have bad breath transiently, and that could be the result of a big night out. In these cases, bad breath usually passes very quickly. Whether it is occasional bad breath or a more serious condition, it is important to fix this problem to maintain good oral health.
What is bad breath?
Bad breath or technically known as halitosis, is an embarrassing and unpleasant condition, especially if you are the last one to discover it. You may have been told by your dentist, your partner, or your loved ones that you have bad breath. This is likely to make you upset when you hear this news.
Bad breath is caused primarily by bacteria in the mouth, nose, and throat. The complex ecosystem of bacteria that builds up in these areas can cause tooth and gum problems. As these conditions get worse, the severity of bacteria increases and that will, in turn, result in worse breath.
What are the different causes of Bad Breath?
The most common cause of bad breath is poor oral hygiene. Simply put – If you do not brush and floss your teeth regularly, bad breath will get worse. At Bayview Dental, we strive to educate and raise awareness about oral hygiene in all our patients.
Poor oral hygiene stems from bacteria on your teeth, tongue and under your gums. When plaque is left for a very long time, it will calcify and form something called calculus. This is like forming barnacles on the side of a jetty. Most people will have some calculus in the mouth, and this will require professional cleaning usually every six months.
Remember to brush and floss regularly and use a brush to scrape your tongue. It is important to maintain your dental appointments every 3-6 months.
When bacteria or plaque gets underneath your gums, it can lead to something known as periodontitis or gum disease. Gum disease is the nasty big brother of gingivitis. Gingivitis is essentially an inflammation of your gums that results in bleeding when you brush and floss them. Gum disease affects your bone levels by reducing the amount of support that holds your teeth in place. Gum disease can be very hard to treat, and it is important that this is picked up on your routine dental appointments.
As your gum are breaking down, it is not surprising that the process can cause terrible smell. People can develop this slowly over time or very quickly depending on the condition of your gums. People who are highly stressed or smoking heavily can end up with something called acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, which is commonly associated with very bad breath.
Your dentist may recommend a deep scale and clean, which is more thorough than your routine cleaning appointments.
Make sure you advise your dentist if your family has gum disease as there can be a genetic predisposition.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease
Commonly known as reflux, this is an unpleasant condition for those people who suffer from it. They may have encountered bad breath, which is caused by the stomach acid coming up. Frequently these people complain of heartburn. It is also important to remember that people who have reflux are more likely to have worn down enamel due to the weakening effects that it has on teeth.
If you are suffering from heartburn, or any other symptoms from reflux, please visit your general practitioner to get assessed and managed.
If you suspect that you have reflux, inform your dentist and see if there are any signs of erosion on your teeth.
Food and smoking
Certain foods are known to lead to bad breath. These can include foods like garlic, onion, and some cheeses.
In addition, if you are a frequent smoker or have started vaping, you may be at risk of getting halitosis.
In the first instance, when it comes to foods, try complimenting them with other food types, such as parsley, basil, mint, and citrus fruits, especially if you are self-conscious about your breath. Of course, using chewing gum or brushing your teeth straight after having these foods will assist as well. Although onion and garlic are used to make food more appetizing, smells are able to be projected from the stomach or the airway. For this reason, it is important to minimize bad habits like smoking.
Dry mouth or xerostomia
The technical term for dry mouth is xerostomia. This can be caused by dehydration, medical conditions, radiotherapy, and many prescription medications. Generally, if you are taking more than three medications, you will have some degree of dry mouth symptoms.
A dry mouth can be debilitating. It affects taste, smell, and the amount of decay you get in your mouth.
Dry mouth can lead to bad breath due to a lack of saliva. Saliva helps to wash away food particles and helps by providing enzymes that begin digestion. A lack of saliva will usually mean an increase in the number of bacteria present in your mouth.
If you are concerned about having dry mouth symptoms, please consult one of our dentists today who are highly experienced in managing xerostomia. We can give you suggestions that will make your symptoms much better and reduce bad breath.
Wisdom tooth related infection
Wisdom teeth can occasionally cause bad breath. The reason you will get this problem is because of a flap of skin. This flap of skin sits above the tooth when the tooth does not erupt fully and can lead to bacteria getting underneath it. What occurs is something called pericoronitis. Occasionally it can be very serious, requiring hospitalization.
Pericoronitis is caused primarily by bacteria around your wisdom tooth. If your body is stressed and unable to handle these bacteria, it will lead to pus formation and a very strong odor.
If you are between the ages of 16 and 24 and do not know what’s happening with your wisdom teeth, it is time to get these checked out immediately. If you do get bad breath caused by wisdom teeth, try and keep the area as clean as you can, use mouthwashes and saltwater rinses.
At Bayview Dental, we are highly experienced in removing wisdom teeth under IV sedation, General Anesthetic, and oral sedation.
Dental abscesses occur due to the gums or due to the tooth. You will need to see a dentist to work out exactly what sort of dental abscess you have. Abscesses are full of bacteria and are caused by pus formation around your bone and surrounding tissues.
Whenever pus is involved, usually halitosis or bad breath will develop.
Dental abscesses are a serious condition and require immediate attention. If you feel like you have swelling or a dental abscess especially resulting in systemic problems such as a fever, make sure you call us immediately so that we can assist you.
Dentures that are poorly fitting or not well cared for will quite often harbor bacteria. Furthermore, it is common to see thrush infections with those who wear dentures. A combination of these two problems leads to bad breath.
If your denture is old and requires modification, come and speak to us at Bayview Dental to get your best options. We are able to assist you in the replacement of your dentures with dental implants as well.
Food packing around your teeth
Food traps can be caused for multiple reasons. A common cause of food trapping can be due to poor contact between a filling and the natural tooth. This is a relatively easy fix – your dentist should be able to help.
Another reason why you can get food stuck in between your teeth is due to gaps that naturally occur in your teeth. You may be suitable for orthodontic movement to assist with this.
Wherever food gets stuck, there will be more chance of getting gum disease or tooth decay. So, it is worth looking at your options rather than trying to just floss it away all the time.
At Bayview Dental we are able to assist you with the treatment of your gaps with orthodontic treatment or restorative care.