Bad breath is a common problem which is often too embarrassing to talk about. Patients that suffer from halitosis try to mask the problem with excessive use of mouthwash. After the short term effects of mouthwash are worn off, the underlying problem is still there. Loved ones are often too uncomfortable to bring up the topic.
Foods such as garlic, onions, soda, alcohol, and certain spices are the primary culprits. These foods are absorbed into the blood stream and when they reach the lungs, it is exhaled with every breath. This type of halitosis is transient and will go away after the offending food is fully circulated and removed from the body.
Another cause of halitosis is dry mouth. Saliva is a natural cleanser. Lack of saliva can lead to a multitude of problems such as decay and gum disease. Bacteria can also hide in the crevices of the tongue and if saliva is not sufficient in your mouth, they will contribute to bad breath. Treatments of halitosis should be addressed by keeping a log of foods that you eat to see if you can correlate a certain food to your halitosis besides the obvious ones mentioned above. Secondly, you should be sure to brush at least twice a day and floss a minimum of once a day. This is the bare minimum so if you find that this is not helping, increase to brushing to after every meal and flossing twice a day preferably at night and in the morning. When we sleep, our bodies slow down. This includes the flow of our saliva. Bacteria win the battle at night in the absence of saliva. This is why us dentists are adamant about brushing and flossing at bed time. Another leading cause of halitosis is failure to cleanse the tongue properly. The tongue can hide the bacteria in its deep crevices. Brushing alone will not get to the base of the tongue. A tongue scraper is your best friend in keeping a fresh breath. Stainless steel tongue scrapers work best since the plastic ones tend to harbor bacteria. Stainless steal tongue scrapers can also go in the dishwasher for added benefits.
Mouth washes that contain alcohol should be avoided at all costs. Alcohol tends to dry out the mouth further contributing to halitosis. In our Escondido dental office, I typically recommend Oxyfresh. This mouthwash has a patented zinc oxide formula to help neutralize sulfites which cause halitosis. I often recommend that my patients soak their floss in the mouthwash to be sure to carry it below the gums and into the pockets. Tooth decay and gum disease are also very major contributing factors to halitosis. Be sure to visit your dentist at least twice a year to avoid these common problems. Your dental hygienist can clean bacteria that have hardened (tarter or calculus) from below your gums and create a healthier environment in your mouth. Poor fitting dentures, lack of denture hygiene, mouth fungus and smoking are also major contributing factors to bad breath. In short, halitosis is a social pariah. It decreases one’s confidence and makes for an uncomfortable social and love life. If you need help with this condition, feel free to call our Escondido dental office for a consultation at 760-747-1811. We would be happy to help!
Dr. Rabee McDonald