Understanding the causes of bad breath can be a big start to fixing bad breath. The top three causes for bad breath are 1) odorous foods or habits, 2) gum disease and 3) other medical conditions.
The usual suspect for bad breath is smelly foods or habits. Certain foods like garlic and onions can cause bad breath for hours after eating them. If you have eaten garlic the night before your dental appointment, your dentist or hygienist is going to know it even with wearing a mask. And everyone knows that bad breath is only one of the problems created by tobacco use. Brushing your teeth, flossing and brushing your tongue will help to remove some bad breath or at least make it harder to smell for people engaged in normal conversation with you. Gargling with mouthwash and chewing gum can also mask the odor at least temporarily. However if you are going to be close to someone, your best option is to either avoid stinky foods or habits or make sure the person you will be closest to eats the same food.
Gum disease (or periodontal disease) smells bad. When tartar builds up below the gum line, it creates pockets. As the disease progresses the gums can start to recede and odor producing bacteria is at a high level which can smell like rotting flesh. Again, you can temporarily mask the smell of periodontal disease especially to people engaged in normal conversation around you but you are not going to eliminate the problem without dealing with the root of the problem. Provided the disease has not gone too far, deep cleaning of your teeth and gums, (also called scaling and root planing), will clean out the pockets of buildup, diseased tissue, and help get the bacteria to a healthier level. Regular periodontal maintenance will help keep the problem at bay.
Finally if the source is not from foods, habits or gum disease, then you need to consider whether a medical condition is causing the issue. Two common medical sources for chronic bad breath are dry mouth and secretions from enlarged tonsils. Chronic dry mouth can be the result of medicines or from sleeping with an open mouth. Sinus drainage and stomach acids can also cause your breath to be less than pleasant. However before jumping to a medical condition as causing bad breath, we suggest you eliminate some of the obvious other sources and brush and floss.
Making smiles happen,
Your Davidson Family Dentistry team
Posted March 7th, 2016