How many people are affected by bad breath?
Bad breath (halitosis), an undesirable odor coming from the mouth, affects about half of all adults at some point in their lives. Many people are not aware they have it.
What are symptoms of bad breath?
The most obvious symptom of bad breath is an unpleasant odor from the mouth. Other people may notice your bad breath before you do.
Other symptoms that may accompany the unpleasant odor of bad breath include:
- Unpleasant taste or changes in taste
- Dry mouth
- White coating on the tongue
- Build up around teeth
- Post-nasal drip
- Burning tongue
- Thick saliva
- Need to clear the throat
What are some of the main causes of bad breath?
Some of the most common causes of bad breath include:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Food particles trapped between the teeth that are not properly cleaned out can cause bad breath
- Tongue coating that is not brushed off regularly can contribute to a bad small in the mouth
- Gum disease such as gingivitis and periodontitis
- Bacteria eat can produce foul odors
- Dry mouth
- Lack of saliva means the mouth isn’t being cleaned as much as it should be
What causes bad breath even after brushing?
While poor oral hygiene is a main cause of bad breath, bad breath even after brushing can be caused by:
- Dry mouth
- Gum disease
- Smoking and tobacco use
- Certain medications
- Certain medical conditions
Medical conditions that can cause bad breath include…
There are numerous medical conditions that can cause bad breath, such as:
- Gastric reflux (GERD)
- Sinus conditions such as sinusitis or postnasal drip
- Peritonsillar abscess
- Liver or kidney disease
- Lung abscess
- Acute rheumatic fever
- Blood dyscrasias
- Diphtheria, dysentery, measles, pneumonia, scarlet fever, tuberculosis
- Hand-Schuller-Christian disease
- Wegner's granulomatosis
What kind of medical professional diagnoses the cause of bad breath?
Bad breath is usually evaluated by a dentist. Tests may be needed to diagnose the cause of bad breath, such as:
- Periodontal charting if gum disease is suspected
- Organoleptic testing: assesses the strength of bad breath
- Sulfide monitors to measure mouth-air volatile sulfur compound (VSC) content
- Gas chromatography to measure VSCs
- X-rays of the mouth
If an underlying medical condition is suspected, other tests may be indicated and other types of medical professionals may be consulted.
How is bad breath treated?
If there is an underlying cause for the bad breath, such as gum disease or diabetes, the underlying condition needs to be treated. Treatment varies depending on the condition.
However, the main treatment for bad breath is good oral hygiene.
- Brush and floss twice daily
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Only a temporary solution
- Can mask bad breath
- Some brands may help kill bacteria
- Clean dentures regularly and thoroughly
- Clean the tongue regularly, such as with a plastic tongue cleaner or by brushing
- Keep saliva flowing
- Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free hard candy
- Eat healthy foods that require a lot of chewing, such as apples or carrots
- Use artificial saliva if recommended by your dentist
- Don't smoke
- Reduce alcohol and coffee intake
- See your dentist regularly
What are some medications that can cause bad breath?
A number of different medications can cause bad breath, including:
- Chloral hydrate (Noctec, Somnote)
- Cysteamine (Procysbi, Cystagon, Cystaran)
- Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO)
- Disulfiram (Antabuse)
- Isosorbide dinitrate (Isordil)
- Penicillamine (penicillin)
- Suplatast tosilate
- Triamterene (Dyrenium)
Images provided by:
Mouth Healthy. Bad Breath: 6 Causes (and 6 Solutions)
Better Health Channel – Victoria State Government. Halitosis or Bad Breath.
Harvard Health Blog. Bad breath: What Causes It and What to Do About It.
UpToDate.com. Bad Breath
European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences. Drug-related Oral Malodour (halitosis): A Literature Review.
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