Halitosis is the dental term used to describe bad breath. Everyone will experience it at least at certain times, such as in the morning just after waking up. Due to reduced saliva while sleeping, oral bacterial populations in the mouth can increase overnight. This halitosis is usually quickly eliminated by proper brushing, flossing and tongue cleaning. For some people who still have halitosis after oral hygiene is performed, it may be due to other sources.
Most halitosis, around 90% originates from oral sources such as gingivits, periodontitis (Gum Disease), Impacted Wisdom Teeth, a coated tongue, infected teeth, or debris trapped under crown, bridges, partials and dentures. The cause can also be tonsils, sinus infections, metablolic byproducts, or other medical issues. For our purposes here we will focus on the oral sources of halitosis.
In addition to brushing 2 to 3 times per day and flossing at least every day, proper tongue cleaning is essential. It is one of the most common and easily corrected causes for halitosis. The toothbrush can be used to clean the tongue as well as a tongue scraper. You will see a film that is light to brownish in color that will come off of the tongue with proper cleaning.
If halitosis is still present, then going after the bacteria that produce the bad smelling volatile sulfur products is necessary. I do not recommend using a mouth wash with alcohol, such as listerine. There are some studies that found that there could be a possible link to the chronic alcohol exposure and oral cancer. Instead, the most effective mouthwash ingredients according to halitosis studies would contain essential oils, xylitol, and zinc. Zinc specifically binds and interferes with the bacteria that produce volatile sulfur compounds. Xylitol inhibits numerous bad oral bacteria and reduces decay. Essential oils have natural antibacterial properties without the negative side effects found in many man made ingredients. Currently the mouthwash that I recommend is the Oral Essentials brand which has all of the above ingredients.
If after following the above protocols the halitosis is still present, then we would look for possible medical or airway issues and possible refer to an ENT or MD as appropriate.
If you have trouble with bad breath and need assistance, please contact our Victoria Texas dental office at 361-573-7722.