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Halitosis (bad breath)

Causes of halitosis

Most people suffer from halitosis (bad breath) at one point or another in their life, but a lot of individuals suffer from chronic halitosis.

The main cause of bad breath comes from food residue left in the mouth after meals. It accumulates on the teeth, the tongue and around the gums. When it decomposes with the help of the bacteria in the mouth, the food residue trapped causes bad breath.

Persistent bad breath and the presence of foul taste in the mouth are precursor signs of gum diseases, called periodontal diseases. They are caused by food residues accumulating in the mouth that contribute to the formation of plaque and tartar. Regular dental exams will help detect and treat periodontal diseases at an early stage.

Bad breath can also be the result of an affliction called xerostomia, or dry mouth, caused by certain medication or illnesses.

Certain food can also cause bad breath temporarily. Raw onions, garlic and cabbage produce gases containing sulfur when digested. The sulfur compound is absorbed in the blood stream, transported to the lungs and breathed out.

Tobacco use stains the teeth, irritates the gums, contributes to oral cancers and also causes bad breath.

Bad breath can also be a sign of other medical issues, such as an infection of the respiratory system, sinusitis, etc. Our dental team will examine your mouth in order to identify the source of your bad breath. We will refer you to a doctor once the buccodental causes are ruled out.

Signs of halitosis

Anyone can determine if their own breath smells bad.

Tongue test

Lick the internal part of your forearm by sticking your tongue out as much as you can so the furthest part gets in contact with your skin. Wait two minutes (leaving time for your olfactory cells to lose their “memory”) and smell your forearm.

Dental floss test

After flossing with unflavoured dental floss, carefully going between each one of your teeth, roll the floss into a small ball and wait two minutes (leaving time for your olfactory cells to lose their “memory”) and smell it.

A few signs can help you identify the problem:

  • sour, bitter or metallic taste in the mouth;
  • dry mouth, thicker saliva or very strong morning breath;
  • white spots on the tongue;
  • rhinopharingitis or large amount of mucous in the throat.

Treating halitosis

Daily teeth brushing and flossing are two excellent ways to reduce halitosis and prevent periodontal diseases. Brush your teeth and tongue twice a day with toothpaste containing fluoride in order to eliminate all particles of food and dental plaque. Moreover, dental floss should be used once a day to thoroughly clean between each tooth.

Avoid food causing bad breath. Drink a lot of water throughout the day, which will help you produce saliva.

Unfortunately, most traditional mouthwash do not treat bad breath, but only temporarily mask odours. However, some prescribed or over-the-counter mouthwash can lower the proliferation of bacteria and therefore minimize the smell. Ask our dental team for advice.

Regular dental appointments for cleaning and a complete exam will help you detect the afflictions that cause bad breath, such as periodontal diseases, dry mouth, etc. If you think you are suffering from chronic halitosis, talk to our dental team to learn about the different treatment options.