Do you or does someone you know suffer from bad breath? In many cases, individuals are either embarrassed to address their bad breath or are unaware that they suffer from bad breath. Bad breath, or halitosis, can be caused by a variety of factors. The most common cause of halitosis is caused by the bacteria that manifests in our mouths. The bacteria causes protein breakdown which releases bad odor, known as bad breath. This bacteria manifests in several places in the mouth such as on the teeth, the tongue, and inside pockets that form between the gums and teeth. If the bad breath is persistent, it may be a sign of gum disease.
How To Determine If You Have Bad Breath
Knowing how to determine if you have bad breath, or halitosis can be a difficult task. However, there are some self-tests that can help. These include:
- Take a dry, clean, unscented cloth and retract the tongue with one hand. Scrub the furthest part of your tongue for about 5 seconds. This should include approximately 4 good scrubs. Wait about 30 seconds and smell the cloth. If the cloth has a bad odor, it may signify the presence of halitosis.
- Take a piece of unwaxed, unscented floss and floss the upper or lower posterior teeth. Usually, 2 to 3 teeth should be sufficient to floss. Wait about 30 seconds and smell the floss. Again, if it has an odor, this may be a sign that the individual has halitosis.
- Lick the back part of your hand (not the palm side), for about 5 seconds. Wait 30 seconds. If you smell a bad odor, this too may be an indicator of halitosis.
These are some of the simple techniques one can use to determine the presence of bad breath. By thoroughly brushing your teeth, flossing, gently brushing the tongue, and regularly visiting the dentist, you may reduce the level of bad breath. If this does not help, your dentist can recommend more advanced treatment options to help alleviate the problem.
Ways To Prevent And Control Bad Breath
To help keep your breath fresh and prevent bad breath, it is important to maintain a clean mouth and remove the lingering bacteria. Ways to prevent and control bad breath include:
- Brushing your teeth and gums properly, twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Brush your tongue using a tongue scraper to remove the lingering odor-causing bacteria.
- Floss in between your teeth to remove bacteria that forms in between teeth and slightly below the gums. Brushing alone only removes 60% of the tooth’s surface. It is important to remove the bacteria in hard to reach areas by flossing.
- Use mouthwash that contains antibacterial agents that help kill odor-causing bacteria.
- Visit your dentist regularly for professional dental cleanings to remove bacteria that the toothbrush cannot reach.
While a simple regimen of consistent brushing and flossing is an effective preventative method for bad breath, it does not treat the more severe symptoms such as gum disease. In this case, professional diagnosis and treatment can benefit from analyzing your particular cause of bad breath and help with a possible solution.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a serious gum infection that affects the gums and in more severe cases, the jaw bone. This disease progresses through different stages:
- Gingivitis. In its earliest stage, known as gingivitis, one will experience inflammation of the gums that is caused by plaque buildup near the gumline. During this stage, the damage can be reversed since the bone and connective tissue has not been affected yet.
- Periodontitis. During this stage, the supporting tissue and bone are irreversibly damaged. Pockets begin to form in between the attached gum tissue and teeth, causing more bacteria and plaque to be trapped below the gumline.
- Advanced Periodontitis. This is the final, most severe stage of gum disease where the supporting bone and tissue are completely compromised. Teeth begin to loosen and shift out of position.
To prevent bad breath and decrease the risk of gum disease, it is important to consistently practice good oral hygiene. Depending on the certain cause of bad breath, further treatment may vary. If the cause of bad breath is related to oral health complications, our gum specialists will educate you on how to properly manage or control the condition.
Persistent bad breath is oftentimes a sign of gum disease. Depending on the severity of the gum disease, it can be treated with LANAP. LANAP is a minimally invasive, cutting-edge procedure that involves the removal of bacteria and plaque that is built up in hard to reach areas far below the gumline. It does not involve any cutting or stitches, making the procedure virtually painless with quick healing time.
If you would like to learn more about LANAP and other treatment options, schedule a complimentary consultation with our gum specialists!
Frequently Asked Questions About Bad Breath
Many cases of bad breath, or halitosis, are due to protein breakdown caused by the bacteria in the mouth. These odor-producing organisms can lurk anywhere: around the necks of the teeth, in pockets, next to fillings and crown margins, on the tongue, and in various other recesses in the mouth. Consider how prone the mouth is to grow these bacteria. It has all the ingredients of a successful incubator: it’s dark, moist, warm, and has all the “food” necessary that the bacteria need to metabolize. Left to their own devices, these odor-causing bacteria can thrive to the extent of causing bad breath.
Practice good oral hygiene. This includes brushing and flossing regularly and effectively, so that as much of the plaque is removed by you as possible. If your mouth feels dry, drink plenty of liquids during the day. If necessary, use sugar-free mints or breath-freshening products found in health and drug stores.
Brush your tongue. Your dentist may recommend a special brush or tongue scraper for this, but a conventional, soft-bristled toothbrush, will do just fine. Remember, bacterial plaque can hide in the filamentous recesses of the tongue, contributing to bad breath.
See your dentist. Make certain there are no obvious trouble spots contributing to this problem, especially an untreated periodontal condition like a gum abscess.