Halitosis, more commonly known as bad breath, is a condition that over 80 million people suffer from. While it can be very embarrassing, there are several things you can do to combat the condition. Our Reno Dental Associates weigh in on what causes halitosis, and what can be done to prevent it. The Reno dentists encourage sufferers to visit their Reno dental office if the condition persists.
Halitosis: A Problem Centuries Old
Halitosis has been an issue plaguing individuals for centuries. From high priests and ancient Egyptians concerned about offending others with their bad breath to 15th Century Chinese inventors presenting the first toothbrush to the world in an effort to cure the problem, the curse of halitosis has been a topic of discussion in social circles in virtually every country. Although its causes were unknown in centuries past, modern medicine has provided us with the wide range of reasons halitosis occurs.
Common Causes of Bad Breath
Bad breath is most commonly found as a form of oral halitosis – an accumulation of bacterial plaque on the tongue is typically the culprit, caused by periodontal problems, poor hygiene or bad habits like smoking. When bad breath originates outside the oral cavity, it is known as extraoral halitosis and is typically caused by conditions affecting the digestive or upper and lower respiratory systems or kidney and liver disease. Extraoral halitosis only accounts for 10% of bad breath cases.
Poor Oral Hygiene
For the other 90%, bad breath is generally the result of poor dental hygiene. Inconsistent brushing or flossing habits can leave bacteria accumulating within the oral cavity on the tongue, in between teeth, or in the spaces between the gums and cheek. Because the mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria to grow, not removing the buildup results in halitosis. Periodontal diseases can also bring on a bout with bad breath, as can bacterial infections and stomatitis.
Growing into our Dental Habits
Centuries ago, individuals used toothpicks made of ivory and bone, candies made of licorice and essence of violet and mouth-freshening twigs from shrubs to fight off bad breath. The first toothbrush was made out of hog-hair bristles in the 15th century, and the first mouthwash (later known to the world as Listerine) was introduced in 1876. In the modern era, brushing after meals as well as flossing regularly is the most common method in keeping halitosis at bay.
Flossing is absolutely essential as it will remove particles that a toothbrush isn’t able to reach. In addition, dentists recommend electronic toothbrushes as they are more effective at removing plaque and particles. You may also want to mix up the toothpaste you’re using to see if certain ingredients work better for you. Many dentists recommend using a toothpaste that includes baking soda, as the ingredient can be helpful by reducing the acidity in the mouth and making it difficult for bacteria to grow. You can also try scraping your tongue to remove some of the bacteria buildup.
Factors Causing your Bad Breath
Individuals can make a big difference in their war against bad breath by staying hydrated. When your mouth is dry, then unwanted leftover particles linger in your mouth. Hydrating yourself so that your body creates saliva is important to wash away odor causing substances.
Smoking is also known to cause halitosis not only because of the odor it leaves on your breath, but because it is known to dry out your mouth. Smoking can also lead to other mouth infections and conditions which cause halitosis. Many smokers don’t even notice the foul smell that smoking leaves behind because they have become accustomed to it. Talk to your dentist from Reno Dental Associates for advice on quitting.
Coffee consumption and medication can contribute to mouth dryness as well. If you suffer from bad breath and you’re also taking medications, make a list of those medications and bring it with you to your dental visit.
Avoiding Bad Breath
Dentists cannot stress enough the importance of staying hydrated in order to get saliva flowing. When many patients can’t figure out why they have chronic bad breath, the answer often comes down to hydration. Brushing your teeth in the morning is often not enough to keep your breath fresh throughout the day. Your saliva does a lot of the work for you by breaking down particles and rinsing them away.
Remember that the food you eat can also have a large effect on the condition of your breath. The food doesn’t just stay in your mouth, but the oils get absorbed into your system and get carried through your bloodstream right to your lungs. Many complain about the smell of garlic and onions. Their odor will linger in your system until the food is completely processed. Also be sure to eat standard meals and snack when it is necessary- an empty stomach can cause bad breath due to a build-up of acid. Be smart when choosing your snacks throughout the day. Dry snacks with high-fat content will just contribute to the problem. Choose moist snacks that help stimulate saliva production, which will help wash about unwanted particles.
Many who suffer from halitosis choose to use breath mints, gum and mouthwash as temporary fixes to mask odor. If you choose to chew gum or eat mints to help bad breath, be sure that it is sugarless. Sugar creates plaque that adds to the problem. Sugarless gum and mints promotes saliva production which we know makes a huge difference. Remember that these are only temporary solutions and won’t get to the root of the problem. If your bad breath is just a temporary problem then it makes sense to fix it with a temporary solution. However, remember that halitosis is chronic and usually requires a significant change in lifestyle or habit.
Keeping Your Mouth Healthy
While many patients are hesitant to talk to their dentist about bad breath, the Reno Dental Associates deal with this issue frequently and are ready to help in every way they can. They encourage patients to feel confident and comfortable talking with their dentist so that the problem can be tackled and eliminated. In the modern era, no one should have to live with the embarrassment and discomfort of halitosis. Visiting your dentist every six months will ensure that there are no underlying issues that could be causing bad breath. Imagine never having to ask yourself “what causes bad breath?” ever again. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment.