Halitosis, commonly known as “bad breath”, is a common concern among dental patients and can become embarrassing to those who suffer from it. Businesses have capitalized on this concern, creating product after product that attempt to solve this problem. In truth, most of these products are temporary solutions, masking the symptoms of bad breath, but not actually attacking the source of the problem.

As a dentist, I frequently listen to patients concerns about bad breath and am asked, “What can I do to get rid of this?” The answer is, it depends. There are many causes of bad breath and we will review some of these in this article. If you feel that you have bad breath, the first thing I recommend is that you evaluate your oral hygiene habits, which should be brushing twice daily for 2 minutes and flossing once daily. In most cases, the primary cause of bad breath is that a patients’ hygiene is not where it should be.

Causes of bad breath may include:

• Poor oral hygiene: Infrequent brushing or flossing or inadequate brushing and flossing can lead to bad breath, and possibly gum disease and infection. If we fail to adequately remove plaque and food debris from the mouth, it can cause odors. Furthermore, if gum disease and infection is present, there is an accumulation of bacteria in the mouth which can cause mouth odor.
• Food: Certain foods, such as garlic, onions, coffee and alcohol are known to be associated with bad breath.
• Tobacco: Tobacco produces its own unique odors, but can also affect saliva production and enhance bacterial growth in the mouth producing odor.
• Dry mouth: Saliva has many positive purposes such as reducing bacterial load, buffering and cleansing the mouth. Some patients may suffer from a condition known as xerostomia, which is a clinically reduced amount of salivary flow and can cause bad breath.
• Medical conditions: Nose and throat conditions or infections can cause bad breath.
• Medications: There are certain medications that are known to decrease salivary production. Some of these medications are necessary for other parts of the body, but may cause decreased salivary production, which can cause bad breath.

Most commonly, oral hygiene seems to be the single greatest cause of bad breath. If we can identify and control the source of the problem, then we can fix the problem. We recommend brushing twice daily for two minutes, using a soft bristled tooth brush. Similarly, we recommend flossing once daily to prevent food and bacteria from getting stuck in between the teeth. Remember, brushing is only half the task…please remember to floss!

Dr. Jeffrey Clark, D.M.D. is a dentist at Lakewood Dental Associates in Huntsville, Texas. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine and completed a Masters in Medical Science from Boston University School of Medicine. He completed a General Practice Residency program at the University of Utah Hospital & Clinics and has advanced training in many aspects of general dentistry. He received the Predoctoral Research Award and was the recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence in Dental Research from the American Association for Dental Research National Student Research Group (AADR NSRG). His research has been shared at national and international symposiums and at numerous academic institutions including Harvard University.

To learn more about what modern dentistry can do for you visit: www.LakewoodDentalAssociates.com or call 936-291-0032.