Halitosis: Bad Breath, or Is There More to It? 

Sometimes just brushing your teeth isn’t enough to maintain oral hygiene. Food particles get stuck between our fangs and tusks, sometimes for days, creating a bad smell that plagues our breath. Sure enough, the next step is to rinse your mouth with a fancy product, but again, the odor is unbearable. Something must be off.

Yep, that’s right. It isn’t normal to have a constant mouth odor. After you brush and floss, your breath should be perfectly fresh and ready to face the day. However, if that isn’t the case, there must be something wrong with your oral health. The first and obvious guess is halitosis, or, as we say in plain English—bad breath.

Halitosis: Definition

Namely, halitosis is the medical term used to describe bad breath. It’s an oral health condition that affects millions of people and can be caused by a variety of factors. Some of these include poor oral hygiene, dry mouth, gum disease, bacterial infections, certain foods and drinks, consuming tobacco products, as well as other health conditions.

When you eat, food particles can get stuck in your mouth, and if not removed through proper oral hygiene practices such as brushing and flossing, they can begin to break down and release foul-smelling gases. This is why it is important to maintain proper oral hygiene to prevent a foul smell from your mouth.

What Causes Halitosis?

As mentioned, halitosis occurs due to a myriad of factors. Nevertheless, some are more common than others, so let’s talk a bit about them.

  • Poor oral hygiene: Bacteria buildup in a person’s mouth when they aren’t brushing and flossing their teeth regularly.
  • Dry mouth: Among other things, saliva helps rinse our mouth, cleaning it of food particles and bacteria. However, when the mouth is dry, none of this happens, allowing particles and bacteria to accumulate, which leads to bad breath. Having a dry mouth occurs due to certain medications, health conditions, or unhealthy habits like smoking that affect the salivary glands.
  • Periodontal disease: Due to gum infection, they can produce smelly gases that add to bad breath in general.
  • Foods and drinks: Certain foods such as garlic, onions, and even coffee can leave an odor in your mouth, which in turn contributes to bad breath.
  • Smoking: As if cigarettes and other tobacco products aren’t already bad for teeth and gums, they also contribute to bad breath.
  • Medical conditions: Conditions like sinus infections, acid reflux, and liver and kidney problems can contribute to halitosis.
  • Poor dental care: Dentures or other dental appliances can create pockets for foods and bacteria to build up, leading to bad breath.
  • Stress: Although not talked about enough, stress can cause a dry mouth, which in turn leads to having a foul-smelling mouth.

The Symptoms Of Halitosis

When it comes to halitosis symptoms, there are more than a few that can signal that you have trouble with bad breath, including:

  • Persistent bad breath: Obviously, having bad breath is the clearest symptom of halitosis. It occurs when the foul odor doesn’t go away even after brushing your teeth or using a mouthwash product.
  • Unpleasant taste in the mouth: Those that have trouble with halitosis usually report having a sour or bitter taste in their mouth. Both of these can make eating or drinking less enjoyable.
  • Dry mouth: As mentioned, having a dry mouth can cause halitosis. Nevertheless, it’s also a symptom of this dental issue.
  • Tongue coating: People with halitosis will often show white or yellow coating over their tongue, which is actually accumulated bacteria that thrive in this condition.
  • Post-nasal drip: Another symptom of bad breath is mucus that’s dripping down the back of the throat, which contains bacteria.
  • Sore throat: Having a sore throat is one of the most common symptoms of halitosis, as bacteria that attack your throat tissue also produce foul smells.

Diagnosing Halitosis

To diagnose halitosis, a dentist will typically perform a physical examination and evaluate your medical history, oral health habits, and lifestyle factors. They may also perform some tests to help identify the underlying cause of bad breath.

During the physical exam, the dentist will examine your mouth, teeth, and tongue to check for signs of infection, inflammation, or decay. They may also look for any signs of gum disease or other dental problems that could be contributing to bad breath.

In addition to the physical exam, they may also ask you questions about your diet, lifestyle habits, and any medications you might be taking. Usually, they will follow along by asking about any underlying medical conditions that could be contributing to bad breath, such as diabetes, liver or kidney disease, or even acid reflux.

To determine the cause of bad breath, your healthcare provider may also perform some tests, such as:

  1. Breath tests: These tests can help to identify the type and amount of bacteria in your mouth that may be causing bad breath.
  1. Saliva tests: A saliva test can evaluate the production of saliva and its amount and quality in your mouth. In turn, this will help to determine if dry mouth is contributing to bad breath.
  1. Imaging tests: In some cases, imaging tests such as x-rays or CT scans may be ordered to help identify any underlying dental or medical conditions that could be contributing to halitosis.

Once the underlying cause of bad breath is identified, your dental service provider can develop an appropriate treatment plan to address the issue and help alleviate the symptoms of bad breath—halitosis.

How to Get Rid of Halitosis

Halitosis treatment will depend on the underlying cause. However, some general tips to help improve the situation include:

  • Brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing daily, and using mouthwash;
  • Drinking plenty of water can help to prevent dry mouth;
  • Avoid foods that can cause bad breath;
  • Chewing sugar-free gum helps increase saliva production, which removes food particles from the mouth;
  • Besides improving your overall health, quitting smoking can reduce bad breath.

Of course, these are just some basic tips to help fight off halitosis, and it’s best to seek professional health. For instance, visiting the East Erie Dental SE Chicago Dentistry, will provide you with an option to get to the root of the problem.

By checking for underlying medical conditions, such as gum disease or acid reflux, you’ll be able to target the specific issue that’s causing bad breath in the first place. Moreover, you can visit them for regular checkups to avoid halitosis at any time in the future.

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