Breath Information Sheet
Are you concerned that you have bad breath and are embarrassed or self conscious about it? Help is here for you
because in many situations bad breath is very treatable.
What is Halitosis?
More than 80 million people suffer from chronic halitosis, or bad breath. In most cases it originates from the gums
What causes bad breath?
The odor is most often caused by wastes from bacteria in the mouth, the decay of food particles, other debris in
your mouth, poor oral hygiene and the resulting infection. The decay and debris produce a volatile sulfur compound
that causes the unpleasant odor, and causes the gums to become “leaky”.
Does bad breath come from other sources than the mouth?
Bad breath also may occur in people who have a medical infection, diabetes, kidney failure or a liver malfunction.
Xerostomia (dry mouth) and tobacco also contribute to this problem. Cancer patients who undergo radiation therapy
may experience dry mouth. Even stress, dieting, snoring, age and hormonal changes can have an effect on your
breath. Even post nasal drip may cause bad breath.
Why is saliva so important in the fight against bad breath?
Saliva is the key ingredient in your mouth that helps keep the odor under control. It helps wash away food
particles and bacteria, the primary cause of bad breath. When you sleep, the salivary glands slow the production of
saliva allowing the bacteria to grow inside the mouth. If you are bothered by "morning mouth", Dr. Dilger may
suggest a simple appliance to use overnight. Morning mouth may also be associated with hunger or fasting. Those who
skip breakfast, beware, because the odor may reappear even if you've brushed your teeth.
Do certain foods cause bad breath?
Yes, very spicy foods, such as onions and garlic, may be detected on a person's breath for up to 72 hours after
digestion. Onions, for example, are absorbed by the stomach, and the odor is then excreted through the lungs.
Studies have even shown that garlic rubbed on the soles of the feet can show up on the breath. Coffee and tobacco
products are also frequent culprits.
How do I control bad breath?
It is important to practice good oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day.
Proper brushing, including brushing the tongue, cheeks and the roof of the mouth, will remove bacteria and food
particles. Flossing removes accumulated bacteria, plaque and food that may be trapped between teeth. To alleviate
odors, clean your tongue with your toothbrush or a tongue scraper, a plastic tool that scrapes away bacteria that
builds on the tongue. Chewing sugar-free gum also may help control odor. If you have dentures or a removable
appliance, such as a retainer or a mouth guard, clean the appliance thoroughly before placing it back in your
mouth. Before you use mouth rinses, deodorizing sprays or tablets, talk with Dr. Dilger, because these products may
only mask the odor temporarily. There are products that are effective, but some products work better than
If bad breath persists it may be a sign that you have Periodontal (gum) disease. Don't ignore this, come in for a
free consultation with Dr. Dilger on your options to treat this serious infection. Click here to learn more about
gum disease and its treatment.
What is my dentist's role?
Regular dental checkups will help detect any physical problems or infections. When you get your teeth checked, be
sure to schedule a cleaning at the same time. This helps get rid of the plaque and bacteria that build up on your
teeth. If you think that you suffer from bad breath, don't be shy to ask Dr. Dilger. Tell him you are concerned so
he can help determine its source. Or, if he believes that the problem is caused from a systemic (internal) source,
he may refer you to your family physician or a specialist to help remedy the cause of the problem.
July 1 2009
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