Breath Problems

Medically referred to as halitosis, persistent bad breath affects approximately 20% of the general population.  It is a frequent complaint addressed by ENT practices.  Most cases of halitosis are caused by an abundance of bacteria on the back of the tongue or below the gum line.  Some cases of halitosis are caused by disorders of the nose, sinuses, throat, lungs or digestive tract.  Faulty or old dental work, food stuck areas in between the teeth, pockets of infections (abscesses), and unclean dentures can also contribute to bad breath.  Viruses such as the herpes simplex (HSV) and the human papilloma virus (HPV) can cause infected oral ulcers which can also cause halitosis.

  • Smoking – Tobacco smoking is one of the most common causes of gum disease and halitosis. Smoking also decreases blood supply to the gums leading to overall poor health and more frequent infections.
  • Food and drinks – Such as fish, cheese, onions, garlic, coffee, and alcohol
  • Dental decay – Deep cavities and dental rot will easily cause a putrid, foul smell from the mouth.
  • Plastic dentures – Poor denture hygiene, such as sleeping in the dentures or not soaking them properly can cause halitosis and irritation of the gums.
  • Fasting – Saliva is decreased when individuals go without regular meals or fluids. The lack of moisture allow bacteria to flourish and thus make bad breath more likely.
  • Stress and anxiety – Emotions affect our flight or fight reactions and can alter the saliva and bacterial flora of the mouth thus contributing to halitosis.
  • Recent dental surgery – If the sockets from pulled teeth are exposed and or filled with blood clots, halitosis can develop from bacteria that thrive on the blood or debris that can collect in those pockets.
  • Food impaction – Food can remain stuck between teeth due to large gaps between teeth, inadequate or infrequent brushing or misaligned teeth.
  • Systemic diseases – Halitosis can also be a symptom of systemic disease. Bad breath can be seen in chronic liver failure, lower respiratory infections, renal diseases and diabetes.

The degree of bad breath often depends on the ingestion of certain foods such as garlic, onion, fish and cheese, the time of day, smoking, coffee and alcohol.  When the mouth is closed for extended periods of time the odor tends to be more pronounced, we’re all familiar with the pleasantries of “morning breath”.  Most cases of halitosis are temporary and come and go depending on eating, drinking and brushing teeth.  However, approximately 25% of the population suffers from chronic halitosis, bad breath that doesn’t go away.  If you experience constant or frequent bad breath, contact our office today for an evaluation.