Chronic bad breath, called halitosis by the medical community, can have many causes. Some causes of bad breath are mild and can be solved easily, but persistent bad breath might be a sign of a serious medical problem, especially if it remains despite good oral hygiene practices. Some of the less serious causes of bad breath are as follows:
– Poor oral hygiene. If you don’t brush and floss as often as recommended, the bacteria that grow in your mouth and feed off particles of food there will form a sticky substance that covers your teeth and gums called plaque. The more plaque builds up, the worse your mouth will smell. Fortunately, this can be easily remedied by brushing the plaque away.
– Strong foods. Some foods, such as onion and garlic, have a very strong odor. When you eat them, that odor gets into the bloodstream and comes out in your lungs, tainting your breath. Brushing your teeth will cover up the smell, but only temporarily. Only when the food has been fully digested will the smell leave your breath.
– Smoking or chewing tobacco. Not only will the use of tobacco products make your breath smell unpleasant, but they can stain your teeth and damage your gums as well. Avoid tobacco products if you want to have a healthy mouth.
The less serious causes of bad breath are easy to fix. However, if you have good hygiene habits but halitosis still remains, it may be a sign of something more dangerous. It may be wise to consider coming in for a complete oral exam. Some of the more serious things that can cause halitosis are:
– Gum disease. Even with regular brushing and flossing, plaque-causing bacteria can get underneath the gums. This will causes the gums and eventually the bones holding the teeth to decay and recede, leading to tooth loss. Persistent bad breath is often a sign that gum disease is underway.
– Cavities. When holes develop in the enamel of the teeth, bacteria can get inside and produce plaque that can’t be brushed away. The bacteria can also cause the tooth itself to start to rot if the cavity gets deep enough. This will taint the breath, giving an indication that there’s a serious problem.
– Poor-fitting dental appliances. If dentures and other dental appliances don’t fit right, bacteria can invade the gaps. If left unchecked, this will put the teeth and gums in danger of cavities and gum disease.
– Mouth diseases. Halitosis can be caused by major mouth disorders such as yeast infections, dry mouth or respiratory diseases such as pneumonia or bronchitis. Though these disorders often have other, more noticeable symptoms, halitosis can be an early indication or suggest that a disease still lingers.
Although some of the causes of halitosis are serious and can indicate or lead to major oral health problems, all of the causes can be addressed by a dentist. At Dental Partners of Boston, we have nine specialists in oral medicine, and we’re committed to bringing all of our expertise to bear in treating your dental conditions. If you are currently plagued by halitosis or want to prevent it from occurring, contact us today for an examination and let us help your mouth stay healthy.