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Bad Breath


By Emil Verban, Jr., DDS, McLean County Dental

Have you ever wondered if you have bad breath?  Since we can’t usually smell our own breath, it is quite possible to have bad breath, also known as halitosis, and not know it. Fortunately, this condition is very easy to prevent and treat once the cause is identified.

There are as many causes of bad breath as there are sources of bacteria in the mouth. Bad breath may be caused by the following:

  • Certain foods—The things you eat contribute largely to your oral health, including your breath. Items such as garlic and onions, or any food, are absorbed into the bloodstream, become transferred into the lungs, and are expelled in the air you breathe. Until that food becomes eliminated by the body, it has the potential to affect a person’s breath.
  • Poor oral health care—Without proper and consistent brushing and flossing, and routine examinations by your dentist, food remains in the mouth, which is a breeding ground for bacteria. Food that is allowed to collect on the teeth, gums, and tongue may rot, which causes an unpleasant odor and taste in the mouth.
  • Improper cleaning of dentures—Dentures that are not cleaned properly may be collecting bacteria, fungi, and remaining food particles, which cause bad breath.
  • Periodontal disease—One of the primary symptoms of this gum disease is foul, odorous breath, and an unpleasant taste in the mouth. This condition requires immediate care by an oral health professional.
  • Dry Mouth—This condition is often a primary contributor to halitosis. Characterized by a significant decrease in saliva production, the mouth is unable to cleanse itself and remove debris and particles left behind by food. Dry mouth may be caused by certain medications, a salivary gland disorder, or by continuously breathing through the mouth instead of the nose.
  • Tobacco products—Not only do tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and snuff stain the teeth and put the body at risk for a host of diseases, they also contribute to bad breath.
  • A medical condition—Bad breath may be an indicator or symptom of another medical condition such as a respiratory infection, diabetes, a gastrointestinal disorder or a liver or kidney disorder. Each individual may experience symptoms differently, so be sure to consult your physician for a diagnosis:

The treatment of bad breath depends on the cause.

  • If the cause is poor oral care, then your dentist will work with you to set up regular professional cleanings and develop a routine to brush and floss at least two times a day. Brushing  your tongue gently each time you brush your teeth will help to remove excess plaque and bacteria. An anti-microbial mouthrinse may be recommended.
  • If the cause is gum disease, then a periodontal cleaning often helps to remove the bacteria and calculus that has accumulated and is causing inflammation at the gumline.
  • If you use tobacco products, try to stop
  • If dry mouth is caused by a medication, your physician may be able to prescribe a different one. Your dentist may recommend an artificial saliva product or specially formulated toothpaste. In addition, there are some prescription drugs for dry mouth that may be effective. Increase saliva production by drinking lots of wáter, chewing on sugarless gum and avoiding salty foods, alcohol and caffeine.
  • Avoid foods such as garlic and onions.

If you have bad breath all the time, be sure to see your dentist. Your dentist or physician can determine the cause and develop an individualized treatment plan based on the health of your mouth, the cause or causes, the extent of the condition and your tolerance or preference for  specific medications, procedures, or therapies.

For more information, you may contact Dr. Emil Verban, Jr., DDS at 309-662-8448 or visit McLean County Dental is located at 2103 E. Washington Street in Bloomington. Dr. Verban’s education, training and experience provide his patients both general dentistry expertise and the ability to provide specialized services such as dental implants.