Put An End to Bad Breath: Causes and Treatments

July 23, 2014 — by Kenneth W. Coffey, DDS
Tags: Bad Breath Tooth Decay Gum Disease

A woman looking up, smilingBad breath can be caused by many things, including the foods we eat, poor oral hygiene, infection, or dry mouth. Though bad breath has many causes, it almost always leads to one thing: embarrassment. Treating bad breath begins with a comprehensive dental exam to determine the underlying cause. Once the cause is determined, restorative dentistry treatments can be used help improve bad breath. Chicago dentist Kenneth W. Coffey offers this overview on the causes and treatments for bad breath.

The Causes of Bad Breath

The causes of bad breath can be difficult to determine and may even be a result of a combination of factors. Bad breath can have simple causes like the foods we eat or can be a sign of something more serious like gum disease and oral infection. Some causes of bad breath include:

  • Strong smelling foods: Foods like onion and garlic are well known for being bad breath culprits, and chewing gum and breath mints won't fully get rid of the bad odor produced by these foods. Bad breath will persist until the food is completely digested.
  • Oral infections: Oral infections like gum disease and oral yeast infections can cause persistent bad breath.
  • Respiratory infections: Respiratory tract infections like bronchitis and pneumonia can cause bad breath.
  • Smoking: Smoking alone causes bad breath, but it can also cause gum disease and dental decay, which contribute further to halitosis.
  • Certain illnesses and disease: Certain illness and disease like diabetes and acid reflux can cause bad breath. 
  • Dry mouth: Dry mouth is caused when the salivary glands produce inadequate saliva, leaving food particles and bacteria in the mouth, leading to bad breath.

Treating Bad Breath

Treating bad breath begins with determining the causes. It is important to undergo a thorough dental exam to determine the cause of bad breath and find the proper treatment. Treating bad breath may be as easy as changing your diet or as involved as undergoing major dental work. Though effectively treating bad breath requires a dental exam, you can take the following steps to help improve your breath.

  • Practice good oral hygiene: Poor oral hygiene can cause chronic halitosis. Practicing proper oral hygiene, including brushing twice a day (even brushing the tongue) and flossing once a day, can help improve oral health and reduce bad breath.
  • Avoid strong smelling foods: Avoid eating strong smelling foods, as the odor tends to last long after the meal.
  • Chew sugar-free gum: Chewing mint gum can help mask odors, and can increase saliva production to help reduce bad breath.
  • Drink water: Drink water during and in between meals to help wash away bacteria and food particles.
  • Stop smoking: Stop smoking to reduce bad breath and improve oral and overall health.
  • Don't skip regular dental check-ups: See your dentist regularly to ensure your mouth is free of gum disease, decay, or other infection.

Schedule an Appointment

To find out which treatment is right for you, we invite you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Coffey.

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