Causes, Myths and Treatment of Halitosis (Bad Breath)

Everyone occasionally experiences halitosis. There are morning bad breath caused by reduced saliva production that ocurrs during nighttime. In most cases, this is considered pretty normal. However, persistent halitosis can signal dental and other health problems and should be addressed. Halitosis can cause embarrassment, isolation from others and even affect your career success.

There are many causes for halitosis. Foods such as garlic, cauliflower and onions can certainly cause bad breath. However odor from food is very short acting and very different from strong smell caused by “volatile sulfur compounds”.

Volatile sulfur compounds are by products of certain bacteria in our mouth and are the most common reasons for bad breath by far. Halitosis caused by volatile sulfur compounds is especially prevalent in people with gum disease, open spaces between teeth/dental restoration and less than ideal oral hygiene. Primary sites for odor causing bacteria are tongue and gums. Use of tobacco causes halitosis by drying of mouth and tobacco also contains sulfur compounds. Daily coffee drinkers tend to have halitosis since caffeine dries out the mouth. Coffee/milk itself also can cause halitosis as well.

Common myths about halitosis:

Myth: “Halitosis comes from stomach”. Fact: Only true in very rare cases.

Myth: “Mouth washes and breath mints can solve bad breath”. Fact: They only mask odor for a short time. Certain mouthwashes that contain alcohol can make things worse because of drying effect of alcohol.

Myth: “Probiotics can cure bad breath”. Fact: No scientific evidence to support benefits of probiotics in treatment of bad breath.

How do we cure halitosis? By removing bacteria and neutralizing volatile sulfur compounds.

  1. Mouth rinses that contain “stabilized chlorine dioxide” do neutralize volatile sulfur compounds. You can find some products over-the-counter and online. You can contact me for actual brands I personally prefer.
  2. Treatment of gum disease, faulty restorations.
  3. Cut down on coffee and tobacco.
  4. Better oral hygiene including daily tongue scraping using plastic tongue scraper.
  5. Increase saliva flow. Such as chewing sugarless, xylitol gum, drinking water often.

Treatment of halitosis is a lifelong commitment that can improve your health and has a positive effect on your relationships.