Everyone gets occasional bad breath. While the condition can be caused by obvious things like eating a meal that is heavy on the garlic, or forgetting to brush your teeth once in a blue moon, there are other times when the cause may not be as apparent. This is especially true when you are experiencing bad breath that doesn’t get better over time.
Bad breath, also called halitosis, is one of the most popular reasons why millions of patients schedule dental appointments each year. While poor oral hygiene is one of the most common causes of bad breath, persistent bad breath can be caused by more serious dental issues and other medical conditions.
Chronic Bad Breath Causes
- Untreated tooth decay. A common culprit of chronic bad breath is untreated tooth decay. The good news is that if decay is caught and treated appropriately by your dentist, your bad breath can quickly go away.
- Periodontal (gum) disease. At times, persistent bad breath can be an early sign of gum disease. If your bad breath doesn’t go away right after brushing your teeth, be sure to schedule a dental exam. When caught early, gum disease can be reversed with proper gum disease treatment.
- Not flossing. While you may think that brushing twice a day is enough to keep bad breath at bay, you couldn’t be more wrong. There are many reasons why your dentist recommends that you floss at least once a day. Not only can flossing prevent tooth decay and gum disease, it thoroughly removes food particles that get stuck between your teeth. If they aren’t removed, these tiny pieces of food will eventually rot and feed bacteria, leading to stinky breath.
- Plaque buildup. So, you brush twice a day and floss once a day. Great! But how long has it been since you’ve visited your dentist for a routine teeth cleaning and exam? Skipping dental appointments will allow tartar to harden into plaque on your teeth — the perfect environment for bad breath-causing bacteria. Because only a dentist can remove plaque with special dental instruments, it’s important to stick with your routine teeth cleanings.
- Tonsil stones. If you have chronic bad breath and notice white spots on your tonsils, you may have tonsil stones, also known as tonsilloliths. These hard white and yellow specs are formed by food particles, mucus, and bacteria — and they can cause some serious bad breath! If your tonsil stones are bothersome and especially large, your dentist can remove them using an oral irrigator.
- Sinus infections. Are you prone to sinus infections? Chronic sinus infections are a common cause of persistent bad breath. Talk to your doctor about sinus infection treatment to help get rid of halitosis.
- Certain medications. There are many prescription and over-the-counter medications that cause dry mouth. When your mouth is excessively dry, odor-causing bacteria can form due to the lack of saliva production. One of the best ways to combat bad breath caused by dry mouth is to drink water regularly throughout the day. Your dentist may also recommend products that help treat dry mouth.
- Drinking coffee. While you probably don’t want to hear it, your coffee habit could be the cause of your chronic bad breath. Because coffee is high in acid, drinking it regularly can contribute to halitosis. If you notice that your coffee drinking is causing your breath to smell bad, it may be time to switch to an alternative morning drink.
- Drinking a lot of alcohol. Frequent alcohol consumption can also contribute to chronic bad breath and cause a stale odor, not only in your mouth, but your skin, too. Consider cutting back on the amount of alcoholic beverages you drink, or avoid drinking it altogether if you want fresher breath.
- Smoking and tobacco. Not only can smoking lead to loose teeth, gum disease, tooth stains, and oral cancer, it can cause chronic bad breath. Particles from cigarette smoke create a dry environment in your mouth, while nicotine allows bacteria to breed quickly. Think about quitting your tobacco habit if you want healthy teeth, healthy gums, and better breath.
- Acid reflux. If you have been diagnosed with acid reflux or GERD, this condition can produce chronic bad breath. To combat the effects of acid reflux such as halitosis, discuss treatment options with your doctor and take your medication as prescribed.
- Mouth breathing. Do you often wake up in the morning with a dry mouth? This probably means you breathe through your mouth at night. Because dry mouth decreases saliva production, smelly bacteria has a chance to breed for hours as you slumber. Try using saline nasal sprays or decongestants if you are prone to allergies. And sleep on your back with your head elevated to help promote nasal breathing.
- Halitosis. While ‘halitosis’ is the formal term for bad breath, it’s also known as a medical condition. If you are diagnosed with halitosis, this means that you don’t produce enough saliva to wash away bad breath-causing bacteria. If you are concerned about halitosis, talk to your dentist about diagnosing and treating the problem.
REMEMBER: The above information points are to be used as general guidelines and should not be used to diagnose yourself. Chronic bad breath can be causes by many things, including underlying medical conditions. If you think that your bad breath is severe, schedule a dental appointment with our Columbus dentists to receive a thorough dental exam.
Bad Breath Treatment in Columbus Ohio
For many patients, bad breath is a manageable condition, with prevention being as simple as cleaning their teeth after every meal, or changing up the types of foods they eat and beverages they drink. Bad breath can also be prevented by scheduling routine teeth cleanings and exams with our Columbus dentists at Capstone Dental in Clintonville.
If you notice that you have chronic bad breath, or your halitosis is severe, it may be caused by something more serious like gum disease, tooth decay, or an underlying medical condition. Contact us today to schedule a thorough dental exam so we can address your issue and come up with the best treatment plan for your unique needs.