Halitosis, which is the fancy dental term for having bad breath, can be an embarrassing condition that affects a substantial group of people. This dental issue can affect anyone and everyone and impacts about 1 in 4 people on a regular basis.
So if you do find yourself having bad breath from time to time, don’t sweat it too much – halitosis is actually the third most common reason why people visit the dentist!
Before we dive into how to both prevent and treat halitosis, we’ll first take a look at the common causes, signs, and symptoms of this condition.
There isn’t one main cause of bad breath – a variety of external factors can all contribute to this irritating condition. These factors often include
1. Poor Dental Hygiene
Bad breath often occurs when food particles are left to build-up on the teeth, gum line, and tongue, potentially due to a brushing and flossing routine that could use some work. The bacteria that naturally occurs in your mouth will break down the newly introduced bacteria, and this process will begin to release a strong, detectable odour. This odour can sometimes be embarrassing in public settings – your dentist will also easily be able to notice it during your hygiene appointments.
2. Health and Habits
Halitosis begins in the mouth and can be caused by several external factors. These factors can include:
- Tobacco and Excessive Smoking
- Dry Mouth
- Certain Drugs and Medications
What Are the Symptoms of Halitosis?
Halitosis can be identified by a few different signs and symptoms. If you are experiencing one or more of these conditions on a regular basis, it may be best to consult your general dentist to see what the best course of action is.
The most common indications of halitosis are as follows:
- A consistent desire and need to clear your throat
- Frequent dry mouth
- Thick salvia
- A white coating on the tongue
- Build-up on the teeth
- Bad breath
All of these symptoms have the potential to affect your self-confidence. Early identification and consulting with a dentist if you do notice symptoms is the best way to tackle any bad breath or esthetic effects from halitosis!
How Do I Prevent it?
The easiest way to prevent the onset of halitosis, bad breath, and the esthetic and social consequences that accompany it is to maintain great dental hygiene!
Brushing your teeth at least twice daily is a great place to start. Professionals recommend making it a priority to brush your teeth before going to sleep. This is because saliva production decreases at night, meaning your mouth can easily become dry, with nothing to wash away the newly introduced or pre-existing bacteria.
Good oral hygiene also involves more than just brushing your teeth regularly. It’s important to integrate dental floss and certain mouthwashes and rinses that will keep your mouth from becoming dry or adopting a certain odour.
Visiting your dentist regularly is another crucial step. While we are left to be in charge of our own oral health most of the time, it’s important that you allow your dentist to deep clean your teeth twice per year. These hygiene appointments will help keep your smile white, fresh, and remove any hardened plaque that could be contributing to bad breath. They will also be able to monitor and diagnose any halitosis symptoms you may be experiencing, in order to start treatment, if that’s what’s needed.
Drinking more water is also a decision that will help more than just your oral health! When you’re noticing that your mouth is constantly dry, it may be due to not creating enough saliva. Sipping water throughout the day can help to keep you hydrated, and reduce dryness.
One last thing, smoking is a big contributor to halitosis. The ADA states that smoking stains your teeth gives you bad breath, and puts you at risk for a host of health problems. If you are a smoker, try to cut down to avoid dry mouth, smell, and other halitosis related concerns.
How Do I Treat it?
Because halitosis can have many causes and many contributing factors, there is no one size fits all cure for it.
The only way to effectively eradicate it is to visit your dentist, have them diagnose the source and cause, and recommend treatment that will work for you. The key here is to figure out what’s causing the problem in the first place and go from there.
While none of these tips below are specific treatment options for specific problems, these are some ways to help curb the symptoms of halitosis.
1. Invest in a Special Toothbrush
A toothbrush that can easily and effectively reach every area of your mouth is the best way to ensure every part is being kept clean and healthy. Curved toothbrushes can help you access hard to reach areas to ensure nothing is building up in places you can’t see or properly reach.
2. Lower Your Sugar Intake
Sugar allows bacteria to multiply too quickly, and even helps them do so! It’s best to stick to low or no-sugar options to avoid potential build-up and bad breath.
There you have it! If you experience any of these signs and symptoms, even just morning breath that seems increasingly persistent, it’s best to have a dental professional assess the situation and make sure you’re in the clear!