One of the most common questions I get asked (usually in a whisper) is: “I think I might have bad breath, doc. What can I do to fix that?”
Bad breath can be a sensitive subject. People are often unaware of the problem unless someone tells them about it, and this can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. Sometimes it’s simply because you had tuna fish for lunch. Other times, it’s because you drank too much coffee and not enough water, leaving you dehydrated. However, bad breath can also be an indication of a medical issue. If you have persistent halitosis (bad breath), we encourage you to talk to your dental professional and medical doctor.
So the question that we always get is: What do I to get rid of bad breath?
What is bad breath?
Halitosis can be caused by many factors:
Particles of food left in the mouth (breakdown of these particles by bacteria releases sulfur compounds)
Coffee (I love my Starbucks too, so I hate to tell you this, but coffee is a double whammy — it can give you coffee breath and leave you dehydrated)
Dry mouth — this can be caused by several medical conditions and is a side effect of numerous medications
Eating foods with that cause bad breath, like onions and garlic
Crash diets such as fasting and low-carbohydrate diets (breakdown of fats produce ketones and ketones have an unpleasant aroma)
Periodontal disease or infection under the gums
Infection or inflammation of sinuses, throat, nose
Medical issues including acid reflux, xerostomia, Sjogren’s disorder and others
How do you treat bad breath?
The most important and best treatment is to improve oral hygiene in the form of regular brushing, flossing, and hydration. Everyone should brush their teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day. Don’t forget to scrub your tongue to scrub away the bacteria that cause bad breath — they like to hide here! We encourage all our patients at Smile Studios to get an exam twice a year to check for cavities and gum disease.
Other steps to help treat bad breath include chewing sugar-free gum — make sure it is sugar free to prevent cavities. Remember to stay hydrated. This is especially important if you are drinking coffee or have dry mouth. An antimicrobial mouth wash can also help.
Remember to communicate concerns about bad breath to your dentist. Fortunately, bad breath is rarely a result of medical conditions but a dental professional along with your primary care doctor can help find out the cause of halitosis and offer treatment suggestions. Remember to tell them if you have acid reflux or if you are taking immunosuppressant medications or have a disease that has caused you to become immunocompromised.
Although it may seem embarrassing, remember that this is a very common problem.
Dr. Tina Subherwal maintains a private practice for family and cosmetic dentistry at Smile Studios in Redmond. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.