Fighting Bad Breath

Fighting Bad Breath

Bad breath is embarrassing and often goes unnoticed until it is pointed out by a relative or friend. Here are some questions that we have been asked about halitosis.

1.      A patient was wondering why his breath was so bad when he first wakes up?

I assured him that he was not unique and morning bad breath is fairly common, especially for people who breathe through their mouths. Saliva is our body’s mouthwash, clearing away the bacteria, and allowing us to swallow the bad odor. During the night our salivary flow slows down, causing a buildup of bacteria that causes distinctly foul morning breath. I urged him to  brush both his teeth and tongue very well,  especially the back of the tongue where the offending bacteria tend to reside, prior to going to sleep and again in the morning.

2. I’ve noticed that whenever I have a cold or take antihistamines my breath gets worse. Is there anything I can do?

Dry mouth or xerostomia causes an overgrowth of bacteria, that leads to halitosis, and often to an increased rate of cavities. Dry mouth is assocuiated with different medications including antihistamines, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and a slew of others. The best thing to do is to try to generate salivary flow, through chewing sugarless gums and mints (avoid those with alcohol that also dries out the mouth), drinking lots of fluids and rinsing often with a bacteriacidal mouthwash (Listerine).

3. I keep my mouth meticulously clean, my gums are perfect, but I still have bad breath. Can there be other causes?

The causes of bad breath can be as simple as eating certain foods, such as onions and garlic, and simply cutting them out of your diet can alleviate the foul odor in your mouth.  Smoking and alcohol, in addition to causing cancer, also contributes to bad breath, by drying out the mouth.  Gastrointestinal problems such as reflux,  post nasal drip, and sinusitis often cause bad breath; getting the proper medical care can often solve these problems.

4. My dentist tells me I have periodontal disease. Can that be causing my bad breath?

The most frequent source of halitosis is periodontal (gum) disease, and is often caused by improper or infrequent tooth brushing or flossing. Food particles break down in the mouth and if allowed to remain for twenty four hours can cause increased inflammation, resulting in an offending  odor.  Often poor breath is a leading indication of the need for periodontal treatment. Today there is increased evidence that periodontal inflammation can exacerbate systemic problems, including diabetes and heart conditions.  Periodontal disease should be treated promptly so as not to contribute to other medical conditions.

5. I wear dentures that I believe leads to my bad breath.  Is that common, and what should I do?

Removable dentures or partial dentures can harbor yeast or bacteria that can lead to bad breath. Dentures and partial dentures must be sterilized and cleaned in a special ultrasonic cleaner, which we do every time a patient comes in for a cleaning or checkup. Dentures sometimes need to be soaked in a medicated solution that will stop bacterial and fungal growth.  At home, it is helpful to clean them twice daily along with brushing them and soaking them at night in denture cleansers.

6.      How do you evaluate a patient for bad breath?

When a patient presents with complaint of halitosis, we will carefully examine them and take a thorough medical history to identify the cause. Often times a thorough cleaning and good instruction on brushing and flossing will at least partially alleviate the condition. Brushing must include the inside of the gums, cheeks and especially the tongue, which often harbors bacteria. Regular professional dental cleanings will help maintain the improvement.  If we feel that a medical condition is contributing to the problem, proper referral to our physician colleagues will be made.

There are special sugarless gums, candies and mouth rinses on the market available for particularly difficult halitosis issues. Many of these stimulate saliva, which helps cleanse the mouth, removing particles that may cause bad odors.  If you are experiencing any of these conditions, contact us to see if we might be able to help.

Need a dentist in NYC to help you with your dental hygiene? Dental Partners of Fifth Avenue provides the best service!

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