Bad Breath: What are the major offenders?

Many patients come to their Dallas Fort Worth dentists looking for advice on an embarrassing problem – bad breath, which is also known by its scientific name, halitosis.

Your dentist can certainly make recommendations on how to address halitosis, but first it’s important to know what is causing the problem so that you can be sure the treatment will be effective.

Some of the factors that cause bad breath are obvious, like food. If you’re on a first date, steer clear of the garlic bread or ditch the onions on your salad if you want to keep your breath fresh. You probably don’t need a dentist to tell you that.

If food isn’t the culprit, then oral bacteria may be. Those bacteria produce smelly metabolic byproducts, and if your mouth provides a welcoming environment to bacteria, bad breath will result. Dry mouth and bad breath often go hand in hand, as there’s not enough saliva to clear away the bacteria.

Bacteria are behind morning breath, too. The body does not produce as much saliva while you’re asleep, allowing the bacteria (and the odors they produce) to collect.

Patients who have dry mouth may want to look for its causes, like certain medications or breathing problems like sleep apnea. Chewing sugarless gum can help to stimulate saliva production. Good oral hygiene practices are also important for limiting bacteria’s ability to affect the breath.

Similarly, an oral or upper respiratory infection can lead to halitosis, too. An abscess, gum disease or even the common cold indicates the presence of smelly bacteria, and getting treatment for the infection should clear up the bad breath, too.

If you’re a smoker, that habit can give you a double dose of bad breath. Not only does the smoking itself result in unpleasant breath, smokers are more likely to have gum disease.

For certain patients, bad breath can be valuable – if it tips them off to the presence of a chronic health condition like diabetes.

Don’t feel like you have to resign yourself to having bad breath. Get advice from your dental team on what steps you can take to restore fresh breath.