FAQs about Bad Breath

What is 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 growing these bacteria. It has all the ingredients of a successful incubator: its 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.

What can I do to prevent bad breath and help keep my breath fresh?

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.

In addition, brush your tongue. Your periodontist, dentist or hygienist may recommend a special brush or tongue scraper for this, but a conventional, soft-bristled toothbrush may do just fine. Remember, bacterial plaque can hide in the irregular surfaces of the tongue, contributing to bad breath.

What should I do if bad breath persists?

See your periodontist or dentist. Make certain there are no obvious trouble spots contributing to this problem, especially an untreated periodontal condition like a gum abscess.

Once your mouth appears free of anything that might contribute to halitosis, consider consulting with your physician about this matter. One of the most common medical conditions that cause bad breath is reflux from the upper gastrointestinal tract.

Regardless of what the cause is, bad breath can usually be helped.