Halitosis Bad Breath Causes and Treatment - BergerHenry ENT PhiladelphiaNot much is worse than bad breath. Socially, it can be a death knell to relationships and party invitations and medically it could mean you need a healthier mouth.

It’s estimated that one in four people globally suffer from bad breath regularly and that includes more than 80 million Americans. If they don’t have it all day, 99% of people report having “dragon breath” at least in the morning. To see the impact that bad breath has on daily life, just glance at statistics posted by the Bad Breath Institute:

  • Each year, Americans spend over $10 billion on oral hygiene products (i.e. mints, gums, mouthwashes, toothpastes, etc.) to combat chronic bad breath
  • Nine out of 10 bad breath sufferers spend in excess of 72 hours and $400 a year trying to mitigate it
  • In a survey of 5,000 singles conducted by Match.com, 43% said fresh breath mattered the most when preparing for a date
  • Bad breath sufferers are 60% more likely to suffer from stress than non-sufferers
  • 57% of bad breath sufferers report feelings of depression because of their problem
  • 71% of bad breath sufferers have at some time considered enduring painful and invasive surgery in an attempt to eliminate halitosis, only to find surgery is useful in less than 3% of cases
  • Bad breath is the third leading reason that people visit a dentist

The problem is that you may not know that you have bad breath. The only way to tell is to ask someone you trust implicitly or your physician. At BergerHenry ENT, we can help determine if bad breath is caused by chronic inflammation in the nose, throat or sinus cavities, by post nasal drip, etc.

Other causes of bad breath include:

Food: It’s one of the most common causes of bad breath. Food particles break down and hide in and around your teeth and on your tongue. Foods like onions, garlic and spices have some of the worst reputations for causing bad breath.

Tobacco: Smoking cigarettes and cigars, using chewing tobacco and other tobacco products can cause bad breath, not to mention gum disease.

Poor dental hygiene: Not brushing, flossing and rinsing your mouth properly can cause food particles, plaque and bacteria to build up, causing bad breath. The tongue can hide smelly bacteria as well and should be brushed gently each day.

Medications: When medications are broken down by the body, chemicals can be released through the lungs and breath. Antidepressants, diuretics, and even aspirin can cause bad breath especially if they contribute to dry mouth.

Dry mouth: If your mouth is chronically dry, it may be due to a condition that needs treatment and/or medication. Dry mouth allows odors to build up, causing bad breath.

Infections: Bad breath can be caused by surgical wounds after oral surgery, or as a result of gum disease or mouth sores.

Bacteria: The same bacteria that cause ulcers have been found in the mouth and cited as a cause of bad breath by the Journal of Microbiology.

Other causes: Chronic reflux like GERD can cause gases to rise from the stomach and into the mouth, causing bad breath. Other chronic diseases like cancer can cause bad breath as well as the medications used to treat it.

There are many treatments for bad breath.

If halitosis is caused by anything other than food, mints and brushing usually won’t eliminate bad breath for the long term. The underlying cause needs to be treated in order to eliminate the odor. However, everyone can benefit from good oral hygiene and here are some steps to follow that will keep your mouth healthy and help to reduce bad breath:

Floss and brush your teeth regularly and properly. If you were never taught ask your dentist or ENT specialist to show you how.

Regularly and gently brush your tongue. Some tooth brushes have a nubby surface on one side that is specifically designed to gently rub the gums and tongue.

Use antimicrobial toothpastes and mouthwashes. The National Institutes for Health recommends that you select ones that include the following ingredients*:

  • Chlorhexidine gluconate (a mouthwash ingredient). Brands with this ingredient are A.M.-P.M., Fresher, Oroclean, Triguard mouthwash, Oral-B Breath Rx, Listerine Zero, PLAX, Orajel, Biotene.
  • Cetylpyridinium is an ingredient in mouthwash and is found in the brands Crest Pro-Health Clean Mint, Crest Pro-Health Cool Wintergreen, Cepacol Antibacterial Mouthwash, Cleanzing!.
  • Triclosan/co-polymer/sodium fluoride is found in toothpaste and only Colgate Total® Toothpaste has been approved by the FDA.

*These are not exhaustive lists and are not meant to be an endorsement of any brand.

Drink water: Dry mouth can contribute to bad breath. Keeping your mouth moist will help to wash away food particles and smelly bacteria.

Treat chronic dry mouth: If your mouth is always dry talk to your doctor about an artificial saliva preparation that will increase the flow of saliva.

Bad Breath (Halitosis): Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment
Bad Breath Statistics
Journal of Medical Microbiology
Oral malodour (halitosis)