We’ve probably all encountered someone with beastly breath. Talking to someone with bad breath can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, and then you face the awkward issue: to tell or not to tell.
Bad breath, known in the oral health world as halitosis, affects many of us. Bad breath that’s directly related to certain foods can be easy to solve, but persistent bad breath may be a symptom of a bigger issue.
What Causes Bad Breath
Bad breath can occur from a variety of causes. You could experience bad breath from eating certain foods, smoking, sinusitis, decreased saliva, alcoholism, periodontal disease, cavities, impacted or abscessed teeth, certain medicines, medical disorders or relaxed oral hygiene.
Food particles collect in the mouth, and without routine brushing and flossing those particles will remain in your mouth and rot. The lingering food causes an unpleasant smell. The food you eat is also absorbed into the bloodstream and reaches the lungs. Foods such as onion and garlic can cause unpleasant breath to be expelled, as these foods contain strong-smelling oils.
Patients who wear dentures may experience bad breath that can usually be eliminated by a thorough denture cleaning.
Certain medical conditions can cause specific odors in your mouth, according to the U.S. National Institute of Health. Breath that smells similar to urine, ammonia or fish could be a symptom of kidney failure. Patients with diabetes may notice a fruity smell on their breath. Bowel obstruction may cause fecal-smelling breath, and patients may also experience persistent vomiting. Pay attention to your breath’s odor, as it could be telling to an undiscovered problem. Esophageal cancer, bronchiectasis, gastric carcinoma, pharyngitis and lung abscesses also affect breath.
How to Stop Bad Breath
Bad breath cannot be treated with mouthwash, mints or gum. These tools may be helpful in masking or temporarily stopping an odor, but they won’t have lasting effects. Regular or even obsessive oral hygiene may not fix bad breath in every case. It’s important to determine the cause of your bad breath before attempting treatment.
Bad breath caused by medical conditions is just a side effect of a larger problem. Patients should see a doctor to address their medical condition, and the unpleasant odor should be eliminated through treatment.
The Canadian Dental Association gives denture care guidelines that will keep your dentures clean and odor-free. Soak your dentures every night in specific denture cleanser or with a mixture of vinegar and warm water. Treat your dental implants like real teeth as well, and clean carefully around them during flossing and brushing.
Visit the Dentist
The CDA advises patients to see a dentist if bad breath cannot be curbed by daily brushing and flossing. Our dentists will be able to determine whether your bad breath is caused by dry mouth or periodontal disease. We will teach you proper oral hygiene, including flossing daily between each tooth, brushing teeth properly, and brushing the tongue. Our tongues can also collect bacteria and retain odor. Remember to add tongue cleaning to your daily routine.
You don’t need to hide behind Altoids and Tic Tacs. Deal with your halitosis now and get back to your normal life.