GOING BENEATH THE SURFACE TO UNDERSTAND HALITOSIS
Do you find yourself checking your breath regularly and wondering why it smells bad? Does your breath begin to smell foul within moments of brushing your teeth and using mouthwash? Odds are, there is something going on beneath the surface (literally) that requires a bit of investigation by a board-certified dentist in Austin, TX. If you have chronic bad breath, read on to learn more about the causes, treatment options, and prevention.
ABOUT BAD BREATH
The scientific term for bad breath is halitosis. This common dental condition can affect anyone at any time for a variety of reasons. It is estimated that at one time or another, between 50 and 60 percent of the population experience bad breath. While it may hurt your self-esteem to worry about your chronic bad breath, the good news is it's typically easy to fix. Most cases of halitosis are caused by plaque and tartar buildup in the mouth. The bacteria in the buildup lets off a foul-smelling odor that smells like boiled eggs.
CAUSES OF HALITOSIS
There is a long list of halitosis causes, ranging from minor to major:
- TOBACCO PRODUCTS: Tobacco products are known to cause an unpleasant odor in the mouth. Smokers and tobacco chewers are also more likely to have gum disease, which causes bad breath.
- AN ORAL INFECTION: An infection in your mouth can lead to halitosis
- BUILDUP AND BACTERIA: The most common cause of bad breath is bacteria caused by food particles becoming trapped in your teeth. When the bacteria isn't cleaned off regularly, it begins to cause a foul odor.
- SPICY FOODS: Some foods, such as onion, garlic, and spices, can cause bad breath. This is short-lived, not serious, and will typically subside on its own after your brush your teeth.
- A SINUS INFECTION: Common nose and throat conditions, such as a sinus infection, can cause bad breath
- DRY MOUTH: Some medications can cause bad breath by causing dry mouth. If your medication makes your mouth feel dry, be sure to keep it moist with water and mouthwash.
WHEN TO SEE A DENTIST
If you have bad breath that is not getting better after adjusting your oral hygiene and diet, then you may need to schedule an appointment with your dentist. Lifestyle changes, such as brushing more regularly, flossing daily, and drinking plenty of water should improve your halitosis. If it does not, it may be an indication that something more serious is going on. If your dentist feels as though your bad breath is not caused by a dental problem, they may refer you to a primary care physician in Austin, TX for treatment.
In most cases, bad breath is easily treatable by a skilled dentist in Austin, TX. In some situations, it may be a symptom that something more serious is occurring, such as gum disease, tooth decay, kidney disease, or diabetes. At your appointment to discuss bad breath, you will likely undergo a comprehensive oral examination, including digital x-rays. Your dentist may ask you about your medical history to determine the cause of your halitosis. The appointment will likely end with detailed instructions on caring for your mouth to prevent plaque buildup and treat your bad breath.
The first and simplest way to reduce bad breath, help avoid cavities, and lower your risk of gum disease, is to consistently practice good oral hygiene. If this does not improve your halitosis, further treatment may be necessary, depending on the cause. For causes related to oral health, your dentist will work with you, providing tips and products to help you control the cause. This may include special mouth rinses and toothpastes. If the halitosis is caused by a buildup of plaque and bacteria on your teeth, your dentist may recommend a deep cleaning followed by the regular use of an antiseptic mouth rinse and toothpaste. This will kill bacteria and prevent it from building up in your mouth in the future. If your bad breath is the result of gum disease, your dentist may recommend a periodontal treatment. Gum disease is a progressive condition that can lead to receding gums plus tooth and bone loss. A scaling and root planing procedure along with a round of antibiotics could save your mouth from further damage and improve your breath.
There are several ways to help you prevent bad breath, plaque buildup, and gum disease. The simplest of which is to brush your teeth at least twice a day. More often if you eat sticky foods that could become lodged in your teeth. Keep a toothbrush at your office or in your purse for convenience. A toothpaste with an antibacterial agent has been shown to reduce and prevent halitosis. Another simple fix is to floss your teeth at least once every day. Flossing removes food particles and plaque from spots that you cannot see, helping to prevent bacteria from building up between your teeth. Brushing your tongue can also help reduce bad breath as it can harbor bacteria, especially in people who smoke or have chronic dry mouth from medication. You should also keep your mouth moist throughout the day. Water is the best choice as drinks like soda and coffee can lead to a drier mouth. Chewing sugar-free gum can also keep your mouth moist by stimulating the production of saliva. Adjust your diet to avoid foods, such as onions and garlic that are known to cause temporary halitosis. Finally, be sure to maintain regularly scheduled checkups and cleanings at your dentist’s office in Austin, TX to keep your breath fresh and your smile bright.
If you're concerned about chronic bad breath, talk to your dentist about possible causes and treatment options. At Meadows Dental Care, our experienced team performs oral health exams to diagnosis and treat halitosis for patients of all ages. We're proud to help everyone in Austin, TX so they can enjoy fresher breath and a healthier smile with preventive oral health care as well as advanced treatments. Contact our office in Austin, TX to schedule your consultation.