Bad breath or mouth odour, also termed halitosis, is breath that has an unpleasant smell. Interestingly, any one may have bad breath - at any stage of their life.
You may recall having had, or perhaps you may have noticed others, near you, to have had either morning breath, garlic breath, coffee, alcohol or smoker's breath. Interestingly, people with bad breath may not always be aware that they actually have bad breath.
The presence of mouth odour can also vary. Bad breath may vary in intensity, be a transient, periodic problem or a chronic, consistent and emotionally distressing issue both for the individual who has it, and the people closest to them, who notice it.
If you currently have bad breath, are aware you occasionally get bad breath or are wanting to avoid developing bad breath, a regular dental examination at our practice can help you address this issue to avoid any potential awkwardness related to the smell of your breath in a professional or social setting.
Causes of Bad Breath
There are many causes of bad breath. The majority of bad breath smells stem from causes originating within the mouth (intra-oral) and may be treated successfully with regular, high quality dental care. Some other causes may need to be addressed in conjunction with advice and treatment from your medical practitioner.
The smells of bad breath may occur when there is an imbalance or overgrowth of certain types of bacteria in the mouth and throat. The break down of proteins by bad breath bacteria produce volatile sulphur compounds, (odorous gases containing sulphur) which are released in the breath. A bacterial imbalance/overgrowth such as this may result from a cleaning problem, an overuse of mouthwash, consumption of certain foods, diets or medicines or the result of some illnesses.
Intra-Oral Causes of Bad Breath:
Dry Mouth - occurs when saliva flow is reduced by either certain medications or medical conditions, salivary gland problems, mouth breathing, dehydration or older age;
Food traps in the mouth;
Poor oral hygiene - a build up of dental plaque (biofilm) may occur from inadequate cleaning of natural teeth, dentures or other intra-oral appliances such as mouth guards, splints, orthodontic retainers;
Oral habits - such as smoking, heavy alcohol consumption or even the daily use of alcoholic mouth rinses;
Dietary Choices - consumption of certain foods such as garlic, onion, spicy meals, alcoholic beverages, or high protein diets.
Other Causes of Bad Breath:
Sinus and Nasal Issues - such as sinusitis;
Pharyngeal / Back of the ThroatIssues - such as pharyngitis, tonsillitis, the presence of tonsilloliths (tonsil stones), oral cancer;
Respiratory Conditions - such as a lung infection;
Gastric Problems - including GERD (gastric-esophageal reflux disease);
Systemic Metabolic Disorders - such as diabetes;
Medications - such as those for the control of blood pressure, management of mental illness or treatment of gastrointestinal problems which have side-effects such as reducing saliva flow and drying out the mouth;
Treatments for Bad Breath
At Melbourne Dentistry, we recommend a thorough dental examination for proper diagnosis and care to treat the cause of bad breath problems. Treating bad breath successfully involves reestablishing a good mix of bacteria in the mouth and throat. This approach is more likely to result in long lasting management of the issue and avoid a short term, potentially ineffectual solution, as may often occur with the use of breath odour masking agents.
Prevention of Bad Breath
At our practice, our goal is to help you maintain a consistently healthy and clean mouth, with a pleasant and fresh taste. When you have a healthy and clean mouth, you will be unlikely to experience morning breath, or have negative reactions or awkward hints from family, friends or colleagues about a noticeable, unpleasant smell to your breath.
Treating and preventing bad breath will free you from always feeling self conscious about the state of your breath.