Halitosis is Bad Breath by Another Name!
Bad Breath Can be a Social Turn-Off
Halitosis is considered to be any foul odor emanating from the oral cavity during the exhaling process of breathing. Unfortunately, you may have halitosis and no one will tell you and it is difficult to know yourself. Persistent bad breath may possibly affect one’s intimacy as well as their employment, so it is an extremely important issue.
It must be remembered that onions, garlic, alcohol, smoking, and the like, also create an unpleasant mouth odor. These type odors can easily be eliminated by avoiding those products or being acutely aware that these odors need to be masked by constant proper oral hygiene, tooth pastes, and rinses. “Morning breath” occurs to everyone due to minimized swallowing and breathing during sleep. This is easily corrected by proper brushing and flossing immediately upon awakening.
True halitosis comes from a wide variety of causes (etiologies). In no particular order of importance, one of the causes is bacterial plaque and food particles on the tongue, especially the back portion. Decayed teeth, abscessed teeth, and trapped food which actually rots, are also significant causes of bad breath. Infection of the gums around wisdom teeth may be a problem along with sinus drainage or post-nasal drip. Patients with gum disease or chronic infection of the cul-de-sac area around each tooth are subject to bad breath. The cul-de-sac is the “turtle neck collar” of gum tissue around each tooth where bacterial plaque accumulates. Calcified debris found in the folds of tonsils creates bad breath. If they calcify, these are called tonsilloliths (stones in the tonsillar tissue) which usually can be simply removed by the dentist or ENT doctor with tweezers. Unclean removable dental appliances such as partials and dentures may also be the cause of bad breath. A dry mouth created from radiation therapy or a combination of prescription drugs, lessening saliva flow leads to further decay and possibly bad breath if not properly managed. One most also be cognizant of leakage of the sphincter muscles between the stomach and esophagus. Although rare, another causative oddity is the Zenker’s pouch of the esophagus, which is an out-pouch in the upper esophagus which may trap food. Any source of unsavory gas may produce halitosis. And lastly, failure to properly brush and floss will leave an environment for halitosis.
So, what do you do to prohibit halitosis? Be aware that garlic, onions, alcohol, sinus drainage, and smoking are contributors. Gently scrape and/or brush your tongue until it is clean and pink. Clean as far back as possible. Mouth washes only mask the odor but do help in rinsing out food particles and loose bacterial plaque. Floss and brush PROPERLY, and in that order. To check yourself, try the odor test–smell your floss after you have used it! You may be surprised. Then brush with fluoridated toothpaste. The floss will have cleaned the inter proximal areas between the teeth and this allows the fluoride to be more beneficial. And lastly, get a routine dental cleaning to remove missed bacterial plaque and any accumulated tartar (calculus) above and below the tissue level.
American Dental Association-Life Member, Fellow of Academy of General Dentistry, American Academy of Implant Dentistry