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Dec 27, 2016

Bad breath – Halitosis

We can all suffer from bad breath, or halitosis, from time to time and the reason for it varies from person to person. A common view is that bad breath stems from the stomach (digestive processes), which is rarely the case. Most often it originates from the mouth (oral cavity). People with bad breath are seldom aware of the fact that they have bad breath. When it comes from the mouth, your Snö dentist will be able to diagnose the problem and treat it.

At Snö we can quickly measure if you have bad breath or not

How do I know if I have halitosis?
A common test is to breathe into the palm of your hand. Although common, this is not a very reliable test, as people get used to their own odours. Only occasionally will you be able to detect a difference with this test. A better method is to use a piece a dental floss between your teeth at the back of the mouth. If the floss smells it would be a similar odour as your breath. Alternatively, you can lick your arm, leave the saliva to dry and then do a smell test. You can also ask your friends and colleagues to honestly tell you if you have bad breath. 

What causes halitosis?
Eating foods like garlic can cause bad breath. The digested food eventually gets absorbed by the lungs and the gas molecules get released while breathing. 

The most common “bad breath chemicals” produced by normal bacteria in the oral environment are volatile sulfur compounds (VSC — hydrogen sulphide, methyl mercaptan, dimethyl sulphide). Snö Dental Clinics use equipment that can measure this directly from your breath in a matter of seconds.

The mouth is always full of bacteria – this is normal. They serve an important purpose, especially in digesting food. When you eat food, debris gets stuck to your teeth and the surrounding gums. Together with bacteria, this build-up is called plaque. Left undisturbed, plaque will develop a foul odour comparable to rotten eggs. As mentioned earlier, you may not notice this yourself as you get used to your own odours. The Snö team will inform you if you have plaque causing halitosis and help you remove it.

If plaque is not treated, you will not only suffer from bad breath but also gum disease, with potential loosening of your teeth. This means that bad breath can also be linked to gum disease. The same bacteria causing bad breath also breaks down the supporting tissue and bone around teeth. With regular check-ups, the dentist will be able to detect and prevent this from happening.

If you suffer from dry mouth (xerostomia) you can easily get bad breath. While saliva helps in ‘washing’ away bacteria and food debris, it also helps prevent plaque build-up. So, the less saliva the more bacteria (as in the case with dry mouth), hence greater potential for bad breath. The causes for xerostomia can be illness, medicine use or even simply breathing primarily through the mouth instead of the nose. If you think you have xerostomia, visit your dentist.

Smoking will always give you bad breath. It will also discolour your teeth, reduce the sensitivity of your taste buds and irritate the soft tissues. Smoking will also increase the risk of gum disease (periodontitis), as well as developing cancer. Your dentist will always monitor any smoking-related illness.

Different diseases relating to the airways can also cause bad breath. As will diabetes and stomach problems. If your dentist does not see any tooth-related issues, they may refer you to a doctor for further exams.

You should look after your oral hygiene!
Good oral hygiene is mandatory to avoid odours. This becomes even more important when there is gum disease.

If you believe you have had bad breath over a long period, it can be a helpful for your dentist to write down what you eat during the week. Always inform your dentist about any medication you might be taking or if you have received or are receiving treatment by doctors. Regular visits at Snö includes cleaning with Guided Biofilm Therapy (PERIO-FLOW® ) a powerful, yet controlled jet of water, air and fine powder that not only polishes all the surfaces of a tooth, removing plaque, discolouration, and soft deposits, but also reaches deep into periodontal pockets up to a depth of 5mm.

Brush your teeth twice daily using fluoridated toothpaste. Bad breath can rise from the back of the tongue, so brushing the tongue can also help prevent bad breath. We have special tongue cleaners to use at home if the problem doesn’t go away. Use dental floss or inter-dental brushes at least once a day, ideally at nighttime. If you wear dentures, make sure to take them out at night (unless instructed otherwise).

Mouthwash has little to no effect on bad breath. They can even have a worsening effect if used improperly. There are, however, certain cases where we temporarily prescribe mouthwashes. Your dentist will give you instructions on proper brushing technique, and recommendations on toothbrushes. Instructions in the correct use of mouthwash (and the right one) can help kill bad breath-causing bacteria. You may also be instructed to chew sugar-free gum, especially if you suffer from dry mouth. The chewing will stimulate saliva production even more if the gum has a sour flavour.

Together with your dentist, we will come up with the ideal defence against halitosis.