The Connection Between Bad Breath and Your Dental Health

 In Dental Care

There’s nothing like having an up-close encounter with someone who has terrible breath. It’s difficult to pay attention as you find yourself thinking of ways to end the conversation and leave. Bad breath, or halitosis, is embarrassing and something each of us has experienced a time or two in our lives, especially after a garlic- or onion-flavored meal. However, persistent bad breath could be a warning sign of an underlying medical or dental condition.

What is Bad Breath?

Simply put, bad breath is breath with an unpleasant odor. It can be infrequent or chronic, depending on the cause. Every day, oral bacteria accumulate in the mouth, which can lead to foul taste or odor.

Mints, sprays, and mouthwashes can temporarily mask the smell, but these products do not address the cause of persistent halitosis.

The Connection Between Bad Breath and Your Dental Health

While there are many diseases and illnesses connected to bad breath like diabetes, sinus infections, acid reflux, and liver or kidney disease, there are several which are specific to your oral health:

  • Certain dental conditions. Tooth decay, cavities, abscesses, and impacted teeth can cause bad breath. Other causes of halitosis connected to your dental health include oral infections, open sores on the tongue or gums, and loose teeth.
  • Full and partial dentures. Plaque and tartar can easily stick to and hide under poorly fitted dentures. If your dentures are not cleaned daily, bacteria will accumulate, leading to foul-smelling breath.
  • Dry mouth. Saliva aids in digestion and works as a natural cleanser. When a patient suffers from chronic dry mouth, dead cells build up and stick to the teeth, tongue, and gums, leading to foul breath.
  • Gum disease. Bad breath caused by gingivitis is characterized by red, tender, and swollen gums that bleed. Unless treated, this condition will eventually lead to severe gum disease called periodontitis.
  • Oral thrush. A yeast infection that develops inside the mouth and on the tongue, in the form of small white bumps, is oral thrush. A small amount of thrush can remain in the mouth without causing harm, but if left untreated, an infection will quickly develop. Any amount of thrush in the mouth can be connected to halitosis.
  • Poor oral hygiene. Small bits of food can become lodged between your teeth and on the back of your tongue. As the food decays, it can produce a foul odor. If the teeth are not cleaned daily, gum disease can develop, worsening the smell of your breath.

Your dentist can treat chronic bad breath in many cases. If, after a thorough examination, your dentist determines the cause is not related to an underlying dental problem, you will be referred to your medical doctor to identify the source and seek further treatment.

Preventing Bad Breath

  • Spend two to three minutes after each meal and before bedtime brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss your teeth once per day.
  • Brush your tongue with your toothbrush each time you brush your teeth. This will remove dead cells from accumulating on the back of your tongue.
  • Rinse with antibacterial or antiseptic mouthwash after each meal.
  • Schedule dental checkups twice a year as recommended by your dentist for an oral exam and professional teeth cleaning.
  • If you wear dentures, remove them at night and clean them thoroughly once per day.
  • Drink water throughout the day. Avoid sugary drinks, especially caffeinated beverages. If dry mouth is an issue, chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless hard candy to stimulate the production of saliva.
  • Replace your toothbrush every two to three months, and especially after recovering from an illness.

Contact Us to Treat Your Bad Breath

You don’t have to be embarrassed by bad breath any longer. Call us today at 480-838-4185 or visit us online.

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