By Dr. Abigail Tubio
Halitosis is a fancy word for chronic bad breath. Unlike morning breath or a strong odor that lingers after a tuna sandwich, halitosis sticks around all day, no matter what you’re eating or drinking. The odor produced by halitosis is strong, embarrassing and can’t be cured with mint gum or Listerine.
Halitosis is caused by a number of common offenders including food particles, dry mouth and dental problems. Tooth decay and gum disease often spark the onset of halitosis. Many cases of halitosis cases stem from poor oral hygiene like cavities or cracked fillings. These dental issues make it easy for bacteria to
hide in the tooth hollows or pockets around the gums. Short-term breath freshening methods might mask the problem, but the smell can remain when the core issues go unchecked.
The first thing to be aware of is that chronic bad breath is noticeable to others, but not always to yourself. Changing up your oral care routine and diet can help.
Sweets, acidic foods and carbohydrate-filled meals are a recipe for disaster, as bacteria that live in the mouth thrive in these kinds of environments.
Another key player in bad breath is saliva. A dry mouth doesn’t have the ability to rinse out the bacteria naturally with saliva. If you don’t have a tongue scraper,
invest in one to help reduce bacteria. Brushing twice a day is good but add in time for rinsing your mouth out as well. This will flush out more bacteria that brushing
may have missed. In addition, an oral irrigator or a water flosser will help clear the bacteria from hard to reach places in between teeth.
Dentures can contribute to halitosis if they’re not properly cleaned. Daily care and upkeep of dentures is important in keeping a fresh smelling mouth, as food
particles can stick around on the denture surface.
In addition to changing your diet, drinking more water, and investing in a tongue scraper or water irrigator, be sure to schedule regular dental checkups. Your dentist and hygienist will make sure any fillings, dentures or cavities are not contributing to bad breath.
Don’t forget: mouthwash is a temporary fix. Making better oral care and diet choices and visiting your doctor will help you avoid the humiliation of halitosis.
Dr. Abigail Tubio is a dentist
practicing at Sage Dental of
Florida and Georgia,