When your breath starts smelling a bit stinky, you probably reach for your toothbrush and toothpaste. But what do you do when, no matter how often you brush, your breath still retains that obnoxious stench? Usually, lingering bad breath is a sign of a more serious underlying dental health problem. Here's a look at the common culprits and how they are addressed.
Gum disease is caused by oral bacteria, and these bacteria certainly give off bad odors. If your gums are red, swollen, and bleed easily when you brush or floss, you probably have gum disease, and there's a good chance it's to blame for your bad breath.
The good news is that most early-stage gum disease can be treated at home. Kick your oral hygiene routine into high gear; brush twice per day, floss daily, and use mouthwash after every brushing session. If your symptoms don't subside in a week or two, your dentist can prescribe an antibiotic gel to help get rid of the gum disease and the resulting bad breath.
If your gums appear to be in good shape, there's a chance your bad breath is caused by a cavity or cavities. Cavities are also caused by smelly bacteria, and the decaying tooth tissue in a cavity can be smelly, too. Not all cavities can be seen with the naked eye (some are between teeth), so don't assume that since you can't see a cavity, there's not one there. If you have not been to the dentist for a checkup in more than a few months, schedule an appointment to have your teeth looked over. If your dentist does find a cavity, having the damaged tissue removed and the tooth filled should solve your problem.
Does your mouth often feel dry? Do you feel like you need to sip water in order to moisten your food? Dry mouth can cause bad breath. Saliva helps rinse away oral bacteria, so without enough saliva, oral bacteria proliferate in the mouth and cause a nasty stench.
Dry mouth can lead to gum disease and tooth decay, so it's important not to ignore it. Drinking water throughout the day and using toothpastes made for those with dry mouth will help your symptoms. However, fully addressing dry mouth requires you to determine what's causing this symptom. Your dentist will work with you on this, but common causes include the following:
- Certain medications, such as asthma medications and antidepressants
- Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy and menopause
- Auto-immune conditions like lupus and Sjogren's syndrome
Once the underlying cause is determined, your dentist may collaborate with your doctor to devise a treatment that will fight your dry mouth and the associated bad breath. You can also find information by going to websites like http://www.silveradofamilydental.com.