…and what to do when you have chronic bad breath

What is halitosis? If you have chronic bad breath, you probably already know this technical term. Halitosis, commonly known as chronic bad breath, can’t be solved with mints, gum, or even a good brushing. Different from standard “morning breath,” or the bad breath you get after eating certain foods, halitosis lasts for an extended amount of time and can indicate a more serious health condition. At La Mesa Hills Dentistry, our goal is to provide our patients with resources and information, so you can make the best choices for you and your family. Read on to learn more about what halitosis is, what the symptoms and causes are, and what you can do to deal with it. Questions? Give us a call at (619) 469-2902 anytime!

Halitosis, also known as chronic bad breath, is an oral health condition in which the main symptom is bad smelling breath. Different from acute bad breath, halitosis remains for an extended period of time. Halitosis is not easily alleviated, and is persistent despite the use of mints, gum, or thorough brushing. 

Halitosis may be caused by many different causes, including:

  • Smoking and tobacco: One of the primary causes of halitosis is tobacco use. Tobacco products cause a multitude of problems for your body, including your mouth. Tobacco products leave an odor on your breath, and further contribute to bad breath by drying out your mouth. Smokers are also more likely to develop gum disease, which can also result in halitosis. 
  • Dry mouth: If your mouth is not producing enough saliva, halitosis may result. Saliva is critically important to your oral health; it rinses and removes remaining food from your mouth, and neutralizes the acid that forms in your mouth as food breaks down. When your mouth is too dry for saliva to perform this function, the result can be bad breath. Causes of dry mouth include: certain medications, certain medical conditions, alcohol use, tobacco use, and excessive caffeine. 
  • Health conditions such as mouth, nose and throat infections: Nose, sinus and throat issues can lead to a post nasal drip, which can contribute to bad breath. Bacteria feeds on the mucus your body produces when it’s battling something like a sinus infection, creating an unpleasant taste and a bad odor in your mouth.
  • Other chronic health conditions: While most commonly associated with oral health conditions, halitosis may also be a sign of other chronic health conditions, including: gastric reflux, diabetes, bronchitis, gastrointestinal disorders, liver disease, or kidney disease
  • Poor oral health care or other dental issues: Halitosis can result from the absence of a good daily oral healthcare routine. When you don’t brush your teeth  and floss correctly and regularly, food can remain in the mouth, becoming a breeding ground for bacteria. Cavities can form and deeper pockets from the onset of gum disease can give bacteria places to hide in your mouth, causing an unpleasant odor and taste in the mouth.

If you have halitosis, the first step is to examine your oral healthcare routine. Make sure your daily oral care routine includes twice-daily tooth brushing and daily proper flossing with quality dental care products, such as ones with the ADA seal of approval on their packaging. Most bad breath bacteria live on the tongue, so be sure to brush your tongue, inside of your cheeks, and the roof of your mouth. If you have dentures, take them out at night and clean them completely before putting them back in your mouth. 

Some other tips for managing your halitosis include drinking plenty of water, which can cut down on many of the conditions that lead to chronic bad breath, and chewing sugar-free gum, which can increase beneficial saliva production, helping to keep the mouth from becoming too dry. Cutting back on caffeine can also help increase saliva, and eating healthy foods that require plenty of chewing – such as apples and carrots – can help boost saliva production as well. 

If you follow the tips above and are still experiencing chronic bad breath, it may be a good idea to schedule a visit with your General Practitioner. While halitosis is most often associated with conditions in the mouth, it can also be a sign of other chronic health conditions. A thorough check-up can help to rule out any other health conditions that may be contributing to your halitosis.

If you are experiencing persistent bad breath, the team at La Mesa Hills Dentistry is here to help! Our team of dental care professionals will work closely with you to identify the cause(s) of your bad breath and help you develop ways to address it. With a proper cleaning and exam, we can identify any oral health problems and advise you on next steps, including what types of dental products to use and potential treatment plans to address cavities or gum disease. Give us a call at (619) 469-2902 , or contact us here to set up your next appointment. At La Mesa Hills Dentistry of La Mesa, California, we are here to be your partners in oral health. Book your next appointment today!