Bad breath, also called oral malodour or halitosis, can have a negative impact on the person with the bad breath, affecting both their work and personal relationships. Bad breath can vary depending on what we eat, how often we brush and floss our teeth, our daily stress level, and our drinking or smoking habits.
For example, eating foods that contain garlic or onions or smoking cigarettes can lead to transient bad breath, but this can usually be combated by a thorough brushing and use of a mouth wash. Chronic bad breath is a more long term and recurring condition that is most often caused by particular types of bacteria in the mouth that produce bad smelling gas as a by-product of their metabolism. These bacteria most often live at the back of the tongue, where they have a moist environment of crevices where they can happily live. Bad breath bacteria can also hide between the teeth, in areas where food may have become lodged, in old or faulty dental work, below the gumline (especially in individuals with gum disease), or in diseased or abscessed areas. Though much less common, bad breath can also be caused by yeast infection in the mouth, nasal bacteria, or chronic medical conditions. Most often, bad breath can be attributed to bacteria in the mouth.
The best way to combat bad breath is to visit your dentist for a complete oral cleaning and evaluation of the source of your bad breath. Your dentist will evaluate the possible causes of the oral malodour and can determine the best treatment to eliminate it. If the source is found to be oral bacteria, a likely treatment will be deep cleaning of the teeth and gums, which should be repeated several times a year. Any old or decaying dental work may also be addressed, since these may be sites where bad breath bacteria are accumulating. Education regarding the most effective means to brush and floss and clean dentures (if you have them) can also be helpful in preventing bad breath.