Halitosis – The Battle Against Bad Breath

Bad breath can be embarrassing and isolating. With improved oral health, it can be a thing of the past.

Worried dental patientIf we don’t know anyone who has bad breath, we will almost certainly have come across it at some point in our lives. There are moments when you speak to someone and the smell of their breath makes you take a quick step backwards. It definitely isn’t pleasant and most of us will cut the conversation short as soon as we get an opportunity.

What if the shoe is on the other foot, and it is you that has the really offensive smelling breath?  It may not be noticeable to us as we can’t easily smell it, but you are likely to find that people avoid you and possibly don’t even invite you to parties and other social occasions.

It isn’t only the social aspects of halitosis that should be of concern. The root cause of the problem may have significant implications for both your oral and general health.

What causes bad breath?

There are a number of things that can cause bad breath. Some foods can, as we know, cause the breath to be smelly. Foods such as garlic and curries can leave an unpleasant after smell. Unless you eat these regularly though, the smell soon goes and isn’t a long term problem. Smoking and alcohol can also make the breath smell and can also play a role in long term bad breath problems.

Some medical conditions as well as the side effects of some medications may also cause this problem. There is one cause in particular though which is in our control to change and that is when it is caused by poor oral health.

Gum disease

Bad breath is just one of the possible symptoms of gum disease. It should be noted that if you don’t have bad breath it doesn’t mean that you are necessarily free of gum disease and regular inspections by the dentist and hygienist are still essential.

If you do have persistent bad breath; i..e not caused by eating garlic etc, you should definitely have an oral health check at the Foxhall Dental Practice as this is a possible indication that gingivitis or periodontitis is present.

The smell of bad breath caused in this manner is due to both infected flesh and the gases that are given off by the bacteria as they attack the gums. Given this, it is probably not surprising how bad some people’s breath can be.

Dealing with bad breath

There are two potential approaches to dealing with bad breath. You could try to mask the smell or treat the problem itself.

Masking bad breath using sprays or mints may seem to be the easier solution but it isn’t an approach that we would recommend unless you are also having the causes treated. Sprays are only a temporary measure and people may still smell the underlying odour anyway. Taking this approach also means that the underlying problem, potentially gum disease, is being allowed to worsen.

Treatment for gum disease

Providing the problem is not too far advanced, treating and managing gum disease can be straightforward. You will need to see the dental hygienist at our Ipswich practice in order to achieve this.

The hygienist will clean the teeth and gum line of tartar and other bacterial build up using a procedure called a ‘scale and polish’. This is usually done every six months or so, although some, such as smokers and diabetics, may need to have this done more frequently. Having this procedure will help to restore the health of your gums and allow you to start to maintain them better.

The hygienist also plays an important role here and will discuss your general oral health with you. This may involve a conversation about your lifestyle; whether you smoke and drink and what type of diet you have. They may make suggestions as to changes you can make to improve this.

Your teeth cleaning routine will also be discussed. Whilst most people do brush regularly and reasonably well, there is always room for improvement. You will also almost certainly be advised to start flossing between your teeth if you don’t already. This simple act can make a real difference and the hygienist will show you how to do this if you are not sure.

If your gum disease has advanced to become periodontitis, unfortunately you will probably need a more complex procedure sometimes known as a ‘deep clean’. This has to be carried out by a periodontist and involves cleaning down to the root of the tooth and the surrounding bone. Although this treatment is often successful, there are no guarantees and prevention is certainly better than cure so the sooner you take action to restore the health of your gums, the better.

If you have been told that you have smelly breath, make now the time to change it. In the first instance please book an appointment to see the dentist at our Ipswich practice. You can contact the Foxhall Dental Practice by calling us on 01473 258396.