Bad breath 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. But in many cases, bad breath is more than just embarrassing; it’s also a harbinger of dental health issues that could potentially become serious problems. If you have bad breath that doesn’t seem to go away, then speak with Dr. James Fondriest, your general dentist in Chicago, during your next visit to find out how you should treat it.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact Lake Forest Dental Arts. Call our office today at 847-234-0517.
What causes it?
Bad breath is often caused by excessive accumulation 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 bad breath include:
- Certain foods: Garlic, onions, and other strong foods can cause bad breath because they contain volatile oils that are transmitted to the lungs once consumed. This type of bad breath 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 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 bad breath, 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 bad breath doesn’t go away even with improved hygiene, then it may indicate that an issue has already developed, and you should seek treatment from your general dentist as soon as possible. If an underlying medical condition is suspected, then Dr. Fondriest will likely work with your primary care physician to help you receive the care you need.
How can my general dentist eliminate bad breath?
Many of the most common dental issues can cause bad breath when left untreated, including tooth decay and gum disease. If your bad breath is 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 symptoms like bad breath.
Common Treatments for Bad Breath
The bad breath 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 often eradicate bad breath. 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. In addition, it’s important to clean between the teeth once daily. This can be achieved with regular dental floss, interproximal brushes, or dental picks. Many patients also find that mouthwash gives them a fresh, clean feeling. Just be sure to choose a product that is anti-bacterial and alcohol-free.
If you practice good oral hygiene and you’re still having issues with halitosis, Dr. Fondriest may talk with you about changing up your medications. Oftentimes, simple alterations in medication or dosage can help reduce or eliminate bad breath odor. 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 General Dentist
The majority of bad breath cases are caused by oral bacteria. 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 ADA’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 bad breath. These problematic areas cannot be reached with brushing and flossing alone.
Mild to moderate periodontitis 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 breath fresh.
Advanced cases of gum disease require surgical intervention. Bad breath 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 periodontist – a dentist who specializes in treating the gums and bone that surround the teeth. If necessary, Dr. Fondriest will refer you to a trusted periodontist in the area for further evaluation and treatment.
Talk to Your General Dentist About Chronic Bad Breath
Don’t let bad breath embarrass you or threaten your smile. To schedule an appointment with your general dentist in Chicago, IL, call Lake Forest Dental Arts today at 847-234-0517.