Halitosis: Understanding Bad Breath

Bad breath can be embarrassing. If it is persistent, however, it may also be an indication of more serious oral health problems. Fortunately, chronic bad breath or halitosis can often be eliminated by improving oral hygiene and diet or undergoing simple treatments. Dr. Ron Shiver offers diagnosis and treatment for bad breath at his Valdosta, GA, clinic, where he has been in practice for over 35 years.

3-D model of teeth with halitosis

Symptoms of Halitosis

Everyone deals with bad breath once in a while. However, it usually fades after brushing or flossing. In contrast, chronic bad breath will linger despite regular oral hygiene. Other symptoms of halitosis include:

  • Sediment buildup on the tongue
  • Significant plaque buildup on the teeth
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Metallic or “off” taste in the mouth

What Causes Halitosis?

In most cases, there is not a single cause but a combination of several factors. Some of these include:

  • Decay and infection: Years of poor oral hygiene or insufficient visits to the dentist can lead to decay and gum tissue infections, which can in turn trigger bad breath.
  • Bacteria: Bacteria can cause bad breath even in patients who brush regularly. As germs feed, they leave plaque and emit a foul odor. One of the simplest ways to prevent halitosis is to flush bacteria from the mouth by brushing, flossing, and using floss.
  • Tobacco use: Smoking leaves foul-smelling residue on the teeth and gums. This unhealthy habit can also lead to dental decay and gum disease.
  • Dry mouth: Because saliva cleans the mouth, reduced production can leave you more vulnerable to bacterial build-up. While certain medications can have dry mouth as a side effect, even sleeping with your mouth open can have the same result.
  • Diet: Certain foods like onions and garlic contain oils that have a sulfuric smell and can linger for days. Alternatively, foods that are high in sugar can promote bacteria growth, which can lead to foul-smelling odors.
  • Medical conditions: Respiratory or sinus infections, diabetes, and acid reflux are often tied to bad breath.
  • Other causes: Less common risk factors for halitosis include metabolic disorders, GERD, or foreign bodies lodged in the throat or nostril.

Treatments for Halitosis

The cause of your bad breath will usually determine the treatment. Common options include improved oral hygiene practices and regular dental cleanings. Effectively treating halitosis may require changes in certain habits, such as cessation of tobacco use and dietary modifications. In many cases, Dr. Shiver can treat halitosis with oral medications and rinses that eliminate bacteria and freshen breath. If a post-nasal drip is contributing to your halitosis, Dr. Shiver can prescribe steroids.

Fresh breath can lead to an improvement in your quality of life, both in the professional and private spheres. 

Fortunately, many of these simple treatments can be performed at home. Most patients find lasting relief from halitosis by combining multiple treatments and behavioral changes.

Patients should understand that mints and chewing gum only mask the symptoms of halitosis without treating the underlying causes of it.

Learn the Best Way to Freshen Your Breath

Fresh breath can lead to an improvement in your quality of life, both in the professional and private spheres. If you are concerned about cost, we accept CareCredit® to make treatment more affordable. If you are ready to live free of the embarrassing effects of halitosis, contact our office online or call (229) 247-0923.

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Valdosta Office

818 Northwood Park Dr
Valdosta, GA 31602

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We are open every other Friday from 8:00am-12:00pm