Bad Breath – Where Does It Come From?

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We have all had the experience of a boss, co-worker, or family member leaning in close to tell you something, and then you smell it. Bad breath, halitosis, fetor oris, call it what you may, it is unpleasant and difficult to bring up to the offender.  Though we cant help the fine line with how you approach resolving the issue, perhaps some understanding will help.

Halitosis can be caused by a number of issues, but the main causes are fairly easy to remedy and can be remedied through an adjustment of normal oral hygiene practices.  Since the most common cause is due to food particles feeding bacteria below the gumline and on the back of the tongue, focusing on these areas and the cause of the bacteria is where we start.  By adjusting brushing habits to include brushing the back of the tongue, rinsing your mouth after meals, and flossing regularly we can remove the food particles responsible for feeding these bacteria.  The unpleasant smell is caused by a sulfur byproduct of these decaying food particles along with the activity of the bacteria, so by removing these particles we are removing the root of the problem.

A Deeper Cause of Bad Breath

If the problem persists after adjusting hygiene there may be a deeper cause.  Tonsillolith, or ‘tonsil stones’, are white pebble like matter that can become trapped in the back of the throat and cause an extremely unpleasant odor, occasionally with a sore throat or difficulty swallowing.  Though more common in teenagers, they can occur in children and adults as well.  They are caused by trapped debris that calcifies in small crevices in the throat, and are normally not painful when removed.  Treatments range from gurgling with warm salt water to surgery if necessary.

Very rarely Halitosis can be a symptom of a much more serious medical condition such as liver failure, but in most instances it is a nuisance that can be handled through a diligent and consistent change in hygiene.  If you or someone you know may be battling halitosis, the team at Klooster Family Dentistry is here to help!

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