You’ve tried brushing your teeth, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash. You purchase so many breath mints and sprays you’ve thought about buying stock in the companies that make them. You’ve even tried changing your diet – but no matter what you do, your bad breath hangs on.
If this sounds familiar, it’s important to talk to your dentist.
Bad breath can be a sign of poor oral hygiene. But if you’re cleaning your teeth and tongue several times a day with no relief, your bad breath may signal another type of medical problem or a related medical condition. Certain types of gum or breath mints can actually make the problem worse in the long run by contributing to plaque buildup, gingivitis, and tooth decay.
What Causes Bad Breath?
For most people, the number-one cause of bad breath is bacteria in the mouth, especially on the teeth and the tongue. As these bacteria multiply and break down other substances in your mouth, like food particles, they also emit various gases – many of which smell unpleasant to humans.
When the bacteria causing bad breath are simply hanging out in your mouth, a proper cleaning of the teeth, tongue, and gum surfaces is often enough to return your breath to its usual fresh state. Bad breath that persists through a brushing, however, often indicates that the bacteria problem is located elsewhere in the body.
Medical Conditions Linked to Bad Breath
One common source of persistent bad breath is xerostomia, also known as “dry mouth.” Saliva cleans the mouth, protecting it from acid buildup and germ overgrowth. When a person’s mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva to do the job, bacteria proliferate and bad breath can be the result.
Certain medications can cause dry mouth, as can breathing through the mouth, certain illnesses affecting saliva production, and simply aging. Your dentist can help you determine whether dry mouth is a problem for you and how to treat it.
Another source of bad breath is gastrointestinal problems. Heartburn, acid reflux, gas, and conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can all cause stomach gases to be released through the mouth, causing bad breath. Your dentist may notice symptoms of these conditions, like tooth decay from stomach acid, and may recommend you speak to a doctor about treatments. Treating gastrointestinal disorders not only helps your teeth – it protects your health in other ways as well.
The most important part of bad breath? Paying attention to it. Bad breath is often treatable, and it can be the first sign that your body needs help.
Dr. Jason Dittberner and his staff want each of our patients to feel comfortable with their dental care, from confidently choosing the right dental work to knowing you can trust our staff. That’s why we work hard to treat all our patients like family. To learn more about the care we provide, call our office today at 928-733-7900.