“Do I have bad breath?”
Pretty much everyone has experienced this fear. Unfortunately, bad breath (also called “halitosis”) can be more than just embarrassing. It can also be a sign of serious health problems.
Let’s take a look at what halitosis is, how it’s caused and what treatment options are available:
What is Halitosis?
There are two types of bad breath: one is relatively harmless, but the other can be a warning sign of health issues both oral and beyond.
The harmless type of halitosis is simple morning breath. Whenever your mouth is closed for an extended period of time, such as when you’re sleeping, salvia production drops, which causes bacteria to thrive. The result is occasional bouts of bad breath which go away after a thorough brushing.
Chronic, regular and powerful bad breath is different. Long-lasting, frequent bad breath can indicate a serious problem with your teeth, gums, sinuses or even your lungs and heart. Chronic halitosis is often a warning sign you need to pay attention to.
How Do I Know if I Have Bad Breath?
Diagnosing halitosis in yourself can be tricky. Your nose quickly adapts to the smell of your own breath. Identifying halitosis requires the help of someone close to you. Fortunately (and unfortunately), another person will be able to instantly tell if your breath is bad.
If you don’t want to involve someone else in your halitosis concerns, there’s an easy way to self-diagnose. Simply lick the inside of your wrist, wait about 30 seconds, and then smell the area. You can usually get a pretty solid idea of what your breath smells like.
What Causes Bad Breath?
The most common cause of bad breath is simply poor dental hygiene. A lack of regular brushing and flossing allows food to stick between your teeth and then decay.
Basically, normally-helpful oral bacteria are allowed to run amuck. They feast on the food particles and release waste. Even worse, the volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) which are released smell similar to rotten eggs.
Eventually, enough neglect of oral hygiene can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Periodontal disease and cavities are both infections which give halitosis-causing bacteria even more of a chance to thrive.
The foods and beverages you consume can also contribute to halitosis. Garlic, onions and other foods with a strong odor can affect your breath, at least in the short term. Red wines, coffee and certain types of tea can also be a factor. Cigarette smoking – obviously – also causes all sorts of breath and health problems.
Beyond traditional oral health issues, halitosis can result from a health problem originating deeper in your body. Sinus, throat and lung infections will affect your breath. Halitosis can also be caused by more serious health issues such as diabetes, lung cancer, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), liver disease and more.
How Do I Treat My Halitosis?
Treatments depend on the specific cause of your halitosis.
If your bad breath is mainly caused by food stuck between your teeth, treatment is usually as simple as improving your daily brushing and flossing habits. Brush after every meal, floss and use alcohol-free mouthwash. Add a tongue scraper to your daily routine to help remove harmful mouth bacteria.
Most types of halitosis require treatment at a dentist’s office. Bad breath resulting from periodontal issues often requires a deep cleaning, a procedure which removes deep-down tartar build-up. A dentist will also be able to treat any tooth decay or oral infections.
Dietary changes might be necessary, too. Even just cutting down on coffee, red meat and spicy foods can dramatically improve your breath. If you’re a cigarette user, you should stop smoking completely.
Do I Need to See a Dentist About My Halitosis?
Many people are reluctant to visit a dentist over bad breath. They don’t want to pay for a dental visit over an issue which might not seem like a big deal.
While dental insurance is often an effective way to lower dental health costs, you’ll also want to consider a dental savings plan.
A dental savings plan is an affordable alternative to dental insurance. Everyone can join a dental savings plan and start saving right away on dental procedures. As a member, simply present your membership card at the dentist’s office for immediate discounts on a wide variety of dental procedures.
There’s no paperwork to deal with or claims to file. With a dental savings plan, you can receive a discount of 10% to 60% depending on the specific procedures performed. Over 100,000 dental professionals across the country participate in dental savings plan programs. A dental savings plan can help you get the halitosis care you need right now.
Your oral health is considered a gateway to the health of your entire body. If you have chronic bad breath, you should make a dental appointment as soon as possible. Not only will proper treatment freshen your breath, but other potential health problems can be identified and treated before developing into something more serious.
Halitosis stinks but help is available.