Bad breath (halitosis)

What causes bad breath?

Bad breath is an everyday problem and it can have several origins. The constant bad breath is usually caused by the smelly gases that bacteria covering our teeth or gums release. Nevertheless, the food with strong flavours, such as garlic or onion may also be the cause of the problem. Smoking can also be one of the causes besides diseases, such as sinusitis or problems of the stomach. The food rests stuck between teeth or on our tongue can start to disintegrate and can release unpleasant smells. Regular and proper tooth brushing plays an important role in preserving a fresh breath. The bacteria subsisting on our teeth and gums can cause gingival diseases and caries. If you go to regular dentist’s checkups, you not only prevent the appearance of bad breath, but your doctor can also help you to identify and treat the causes of it.

How can we help?

If you have bad breath, you should start keeping your teeth and mouth regularly clean and fresh. The regular dentist’s checkups are a good opportunity for the dentist to control the areas where plaque can appear. The dentist can clean the spaces which are normally difficult to access for us. Moreover the dentists can also show us the best tooth- and gum cleaning methods and the spots we normally omit, for example the tongue. Bad breath or bad taste in your mouth can be a warning sign of gingival diseases. The sooner we detect these problems, the more easily we can treat them.

Can I prevent bad breath?

In order to keep your breath fresh, you have to get rid of gingival diseases and keep your mouth clean and fresh. In case of bad breath try to keep trace of the food you consume and make a list of the medicines you take. Take this list to your doctor, who can make a recommendation in his turn about methods to use for solving the problem. Brush your teeth and gums twice a day with fluoride containing toothpaste! Don’t forget to clean your tongue either! Use dental floss once a day to clean the spaces between your teeth! There are other products available also, that you can use to clean the space between your teeth (called “interdental cleaner”). If you wear a prosthesis, take it out for the night. Don’t brush it with a toothbrush, because this can scratch the surface, cause discolouration and they can lose their shine. Rinse it, clean it thoroughly in lukewarm water and place it in a solution containing a prosthesis cleaning tablet for 20-30 minutes. You can also use a toothbrush designed for cleaning prostheses. Don’t forget to clean the surface where it connects to the palate and the gums. By following all these instructions, you make sure that your prosthesis stays fresh and clean, you prevent the deposit of plaque, which causes bad breath. You can easily find tablets for cleaning prostheses in drugstores and pharmacies.

What else can cause bad breath?

Some medical issues can also cause bad breath. The constantly dry breath (xerostomia) is a condition that influences the production of saliva. Thus, the bacteria spread in the mouth, and this can also lead to bad breath. The causes for dry mouth can be some medicines you take, problems with the salivary glands or breathing through your mouth instead of your nose. Old people’s salivary glands don’t produce as much saliva as before and this can lead to further problems. If you suffer from dry mouth, your dentist may also prescribe you some medicines that artificially stimulate the production of saliva, or he may recommend another cure. Other medical issues can also cause bad breath, for example infections of the throat, nose, lungs, sinusitis, bronchitis, diabetes or kidney-and liver problems. If your dentist finds your oral cavity healthy, you should visit your family doctor or a specialist to identify the root of the problem. Smoking can also be the cause of bad breath, but besides this, it can discolour the teeth, decrease the sense of taste and irritate the gums. Smokers suffer from gingival diseases more often and they have a higher chance to develop oral – or lung cancer. The only solution in this case is to give up smoking. You can ask for your dentist’s or pharamacist’s help in this direction. If the bad breath persists after giving up smopking, visit your doctor or dentist for further advice.