Mouth Odor | What causes it and how is it treated

Man with mouth odors

Mouth odors can be embarrassing, and if you’re aware of it, then it can cause you to limit interactions with other people or avoid face to face conversations altogether. Do you have mouth odors that don’t seem to go away? We are not referring to simple morning breath that many people have. Many people have mouth odors during the day that are more than just embarrassing. They can be a harbinger of dental health issues that could potentially become serious problems. Ask your dentist what could be contributing to smelly breath and how you should treat it at your next dental visit.

Many have bad breath due to health issues and the foods they eat

onionsMouth odors are often caused by excessive buildup of oral bacteria, especially on your tongue, teeth, and gums. Oral bacteria react differently to the nutrients you consume, and those on your tongue can convert proteins into foul smelling sulfur gases. The more bacteria on your tongue, the more gases will be released and the stronger the odor will be. To further complicate the issue, infected gums and decaying teeth make the odor worse. Other causes of foul breath include:

  • Certain foods: Onions, garlic, and other strong foods can cause mouth odors because they contain volatile oils that are transmitted to the lungs once consumed. This type of odor is temporary, and diminishes within a few hours.
  • Certain health conditions: There are medical conditions that can cause halitosis. For example, those with sinus infections or nasal discharge may notice a foul odor. Diabetics also frequently report strange smelling breath, usually the result of blood sugar fluctuations. Additionally, certain metabolic disorders, kidney diseases, or cancers can result in unusual breath odors. If these symptoms persist, it’s important to see your doctor right away.

What if it doesn’t go away?

If you’re worried about your mouth odors, the first place to start is oral hygiene. Improving your techniques can make a world of difference. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once will help control the gathering oral bacteria and the plaque they form. Cleaning your tongue when you brush your teeth will help significantly remove the source of your bad breath.

If your sour breath doesn’t go away even with improved hygiene, then it may indicate that dental or health problems have developed. You should seek treatment from your dentist as soon as possible. If an underlying medical problem is suspected, then Dr. Fondriest will likely work with your primary care physician to help you receive the care you need.

How can my dentist eliminate mouth odors?

Many of the most common dental issues can cause breath issues when left untreated, including tooth decay and gum disease. If your bad breath odors are persistent, then your dentist will perform a comprehensive examination to determine its exact cause. Depending on your specific situation, your dentist will recommend an appropriate treatment plan to restore your good oral health and alleviate your symptoms.

Common Treatments for Mouth Odor

The treatment recommended for you will entirely depend on the cause of your condition. In the sections below, we’ll explore some of the most common.

Improving Oral Hygiene

As aforementioned, improving your oral hygiene routine can limit odor causing bacteria. To ensure you’re spending enough time on your oral health at home, you should brush at least twice a day and spend at least two minutes brushing every time. Make sure to remove all of the tiny food particles from your tongue.

In addition, it’s important to clean between the teeth once daily. This can be achieved with regular dental floss, proxy brushes, or dental picks. Many patients also find that using tongue scrapers and rinsing with mouthwash gives them a fresh, clean feeling. Just be sure to choose a product that is antibacterial and alcohol free.

Altering Medications

If you practice good oral hygiene and you’re still having issues with halitosis, Dr. Fondriest may talk with you about your medications. Medications have many side affects including slowing your salivary gland function. A dry mouth will have more bacteria. Oftentimes, simple alterations in medication or dosage can help reduce or eliminate mouth odors. If medication is likely the underlying cause of your halitosis, Dr. Fondriest will work with your primary care physician to make the necessary adjustments.

Regular Dental Cleanings with Your Dentist

The majority of breath problems are caused by oral bacteria. Poor oral hygiene is the number one cause of mouth odors. Therefore, a simple routine cleaning is often all that is needed. There’s a common misconception that every patient needs six month cleanings. However, the American Dental Assoc’s official stance is that hygiene visits should be scheduled at intervals determined by your general dentist. Some patients may be more prone to gum disease or decay. In these instances, it’s helpful to schedule cleanings more frequently. Dr. Fondriest can help you determine a routine that’s right for you.

Scaling and Root Planing

Gum disease is a condition characterized by red, swollen gums and bone loss around the teeth. As the condition progresses, bacteria breed far beneath the gum line, causing a number of symptoms, including halitosis. These problematic areas cannot be reached with brushing and flossing alone.

Mild to moderate periodontal disease can be treated with scaling and root planing. This procedure is similar to a regular cleaning, but the tissues are numbed so that the hygienist can clean deep beneath the gum line. Generally, after completing this step, patients are placed on a routine cleaning schedule with their hygienist to maintain their progress and keep their mouth fresh.

Gum Surgery

Advanced cases of gum disease require surgical intervention. Mouth odor can be caused by this condition – but it is usually the least worrisome symptom. Those with advanced gum disease risk mobility, shifting, and tooth loss as well.

Those who suffer from advanced gum disease are often referred to a trusted gum specialist for further evaluation and treatment.

Talk to Your Dentist About Chronic Mouth Odors

Learn more about the common causes of halitosis and the best cures for bad breath.  If your breath smells, don’t let it embarrass you or threaten your smile. To schedule an appointment with your general dentist in Chicago, IL, call us today at 847-234-0517.