Who hasn’t suffered the dreaded “morning breath” when you first wake up in the morning? Bad breath is medically referred to as halitosis, but is generally categorized as a foul odor of the mouth. This condition can be chronic or acute, and has a number of different causes ranging from your basic oral hygiene habits to a sign of a bigger health problem that needs to be addressed by a medical professional. Inadequate oral hygiene is the first thing we look for in these cases. Food that is left on or between the teeth will start to decompose and cause an odor. Proteins break down on and around the teeth, gums and tongue. Bacteria that is always present in the mouth aid in this breakdown. If the patient’s oral hygiene is poor, plaque will develop around the gum line and this also will contribute to unfavorable odors. If plaque is continually ignored, the patient will develop gingivitis and this can lead to much more serious health effects than just bad breath.
Other oral causes of bad breath include:
- Gum Disease
- Trapped Food Particles in Your Tonsils
- Unclean Dental Appliances
- Cracked Fillings
Chronically bad breath can also be a sign of a medical condition that needs to be addressed. Since saliva is necessary in the mouth to keep it moist, neutralize acids and wash away dead cells, “dry mouth” can have a bad breath symptom from plaque buildup or deposits left on the cheek and tongue. Lack of saliva is also why your breath smells bad a lot of the time when you first wake up in the morning, because you do not produce adequate saliva during sleep.
Some other common medical conditions associated with bad breath include:
- Acid reflux
- Respiratory tract infections
- Postnasal drip
- Malfunctions in the kidney and liver
While sugar-free chewing gum and/or mouthwash can help, this solution is only temporary. Thorough brushing of teeth twice a day after meals and flossing once a day is essential. It is also vital that you see your dentist twice per year. These things are the keys to maintaining your oral health. Your dentist will do a thorough examination, your hygienist will take x-ray’s if necessary, and they will go over your home care with you and instruct you if improvements need to be made. If you have been maintaining proper oral hygiene and your bad breath continues, it is important to have the problem addressed by a medical professional in order to determine if there are other underlying problems that are leading to your bad breath.