Discovering the cause of bad breath starts with the basics
Every now and then I’ll have friends, family members, or patients that are concerned about bad breath, and they want to know why this is happening. Now, the vast majority of our patients (and family members and friends!) are pretty darn good about brushing twice per day, so it’s not necessarily as simple as saying “you’re not brushing well enough”. But hygiene is always the first place I start when trying to discover the source of the halitosis (bad breath).
Like I said, brushing twice a day for at least two minutes at a time is the first step. That removes about 60-70 percent of the plaque on our teeth that contain the bacteria that cause the bad smell. Of course, we want to remove that other 30-40 percent too, and that is where flossing or using a Waterpik is important.
I practice good hygiene and still have bad breath. Why?
But, let’s say you are a great brusher and you use your Waterpik every night, and you still experience bad breath. There are several other possible causes. Dry mouth is commonly associated with bad breath, so staying well hydrated is important. Obviously, certain savory foods, like garlic and onions, are associated with bad breath as well, no matter how good your oral hygiene is. Even mouthwashes and chewing gum aren’t going to save you if you eat an entire garlic bagel!
Another possibility is gastric reflux. If you have ruled out other causes, you may want to see your physician to make sure that you’re not suffering from chronic gastric reflux.
Some patients with deep grooves in the tonsils, or tonsillar crypts, can suffer from bad breath as well, due to bacteria and mucus collecting there. Patients with chronic post-nasal drip are especially at risk for this and should see their physicians for treatment.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you did eat that raw onion in your salad, and now you need to invest in some mints or gum, make sure the product you buy is sugar-free. If you constantly have sugary mints in your mouth all day long, you are creating an environment in which cavities are likely to develop.
So there you have it - brush, floss, stay hydrated, avoid the foods associated with bad breath, and rule out post-nasal drip and reflux. If you have done all of this, give us a call and let us take a look. Infected and necrotic teeth also have foul smells associated with them.