Bad Breath – Possible Causes And Available Treatments

Some helpful advice for Wickford halitosis sufferers

Concerned womanMost of us will experience bad breath on occasions. We may have been in such a rush to get to work that we forgot to clean our teeth, or perhaps we smoke. These and bad breath caused by foods such as garlic are common and with the exception of smoking, usually temporary.

Aside from any social problems this may cause, temporary bad breath is rarely a significant issue and will usually go away once we have stopped doing whatever it was that caused it in the first place. Those who suffer from ongoing bad breath though should take a look at what the underlying causes are as they could be potentially quite serious.

What is bad breath?

The obvious answer is breath that smells, but what actually causes the smell? In most cases, the smell comes from sulphur which is released by bacteria in the mouth. Garlic and some other foods can also create smelly breath in a different way. Apart from the smell of the actual product, our digestive system absorbs their byproducts into the bloodstream and this eventually finds its ways into our lungs. No amount of brushing our teeth is going to remove that.

The latter cause, whilst unpleasant, is generally not serious or long lasting. It is the first cause which is a potentially serious issue and one which we may be able to help reduce or eliminate at the Cygnet Dental Practice.

Gum disease

If your bad breath is persistent and not directly linked to a food like garlic or a bad habit like smoking, there is every likelihood that it is being caused by gum disease. This is often a result of poor oral hygiene over a period of time but, providing that it is detected early enough, it can often be reversed and managed. Gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, is caused when the number of potentially harmful bacteria in our mouth grows beyond a manageable number. These will attack the soft tissue of our gums, releasing obnoxious smelling fumes as they do so. Unfortunately, it is difficult to detect bad breath on ourselves and it may be only when we notice people moving away when we speak that we become aware of it.

At this stage of the problem, it can be treated by our Wickford dental hygiene team who can carry out a scale and polish (more on that later). If the problem isn’t dealt with at this stage, the bacteria can go on to also attack the roots of the teeth and surrounding bone, This requires more invasive surgical intervention.

Can you simply ‘mask’ the smell?

There are some products on the market which aim to mask the smell of your bad breath. Usually, these come in the form of some sort of mint or other breath sweetener. Whilst these might have a role in emergencies, they can also mask the more serious underlying problem and using them may even lead to us not seeking treatment when we should.

Brushing your teeth is a better method as it will not only sweeten the breath, but will remove some of the offending bacteria from your mouth too. This is still unlikely to resolve the issue at hand though.

Gum disease treatment

Most cases of persistent bad breath are down to gum disease and oral health issues in general. It makes sense therefore, that the best way to resolve the problem is to see your local dentist for their advice.

Where early stage gum disease is detected, it can often be reversed through a better oral care regimen; for example, using a newer toothbrush, brushing better and adding dental floss to your daily routine. Most patients that see the dental hygienist will not only receive advice on how to look after their oral health better, but will have their teeth cleaned by them, using a scale and polish procedure. This removes hardened bacteria that regular brushing can’t remove and will leave your teeth and gums both cleaner and a lot healthier.

Where the problem is more advanced; a stage known as periodontitis, the bacteria will also be present on the root of the tooth and, very likely, on the bone surrounding it. This will require intervention in the form of a ‘deep clean’. Unlike a scale and polish, this requires treatment by a suitably qualified dentist and is significantly more invasive too. As there is no guaranteed success once the problem has reached the stage where a deep clean is needed, it makes sense not to ignore the problem and to have it treated earlier with a non-invasive scale and polish treatment.

This treatment and better home oral care should help eradicate or at least reduce most cases of bad breath. It may still smell if you eat garlic, of course, but that is a non serious issue. If, after receiving dental treatment for it, the problem still persists, you should see your GP as, whilst gum disease is the most common cause of persistently bad breath, it can also, in some instances, be caused by medical issues such as kidney and liver problems.

If you have bad breath and would like us to help you get rid of it, you can contact our Wickford surgery  by calling the Cygnet Dental Practice on 01268 733078.