Controlling Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Bad breath, or halitosis, is a major social faux pas. But, from where does it come? The answer to this question is multifaceted. It could be as simple as the cigarette you had with your beer last night or the red onions and garlic on your sandwich today at lunch to something as extreme as your teeth are ready to fall out or your diabetes is out of control! Let’s take a further look into this very complex situation.
Not surprisingly, if you have bad breath, your dentist is the first place you need to visit if it doesn’t go away with brushing your teeth. If it is something as simple as something as what you have smoked or eaten, you are going to be told to cease that action, cleanse your mouth by brushing, flossing and using an oral rinse. That is pretty straightforward. The other causes of bad breath are the ones that may surprise and some may not.
The most common cause of bad breath outside of the consumption causes is gum disease, or periodontal disease. This is due to a lack of proper oral hygiene and home care of your mouth. If caught in time, your dentist or a dental specialist, called a Periodontist, will be able to reverse, or at least cease, the problem.
Periodontal disease typically is not reversible. By the time it is usually caught, there is great bony destruction in the mouth. But, many times, it can be stopped. This can prevent you from losing all of your teeth. The bad breath that comes from this disease is due to an imbalance in the bacteria in the mouth. The bad bacteria overtake the good bacteria in the mouth. The smell coming from your mouth is from the byproducts from the bad bacteria in your mouth.
By having poor oral hygiene allows these byproducts to build up over time. This leads to a very foul smell coming from your mouth. There are very few treatments for this. There is non-surgical therapy, or deep cleaning. This is the first course of action. If this does not work, then you may be able to try surgical therapy if the destruction has gone too far. This is where a dental specialist will clean the teeth and gums surgically. Finally, if the destruction is past the point of no return, the teeth may have to be extracted.
Now, we come to the more serious discussion of bad breath. Sometimes, bad breath may be caused due to internal medical diseases such as diabetes being out of control. This is why your dentist’s first two year of dental school is very similar to medical school. In addition to knowing how to repair teeth, he or she must know how the human body affects the head and neck.
If diabetes is out of control, the breath can have a certain “sweet” smell to it. This is very different than the smell of periodontal disease breath smell. An educated dentist knows these two smells very well. Your dentist will not be sticking their nose in your mouth, but just talking to you in your evaluation, he or she will be able to tell. Don’t be embarrassed, it is their job.
The bottom line to bad breath is this, prevention is the key. See your dentist regularly for checkups. A well trained dentist will be able to prevent the periodontal disease with your help with home care. Regular brushing and flossing, excellent home care, staying away from bad habits will prevent superficial bad breath.
By seeing your dentist on a regular interval, he or she will be able evaluate your medical history in relation to your oral health. If the eyes are the window to the soul, the mouth is the window to your physical health. So much can be told about your physical health through a thorough oral exam. Sometime, it may actually save your life. If nothing else, it will at least save your teeth.