One of most popular questions I get asked as a dentist in Portland, OR is what causes bad breath, and what can be done to prevent it from occurring. 90% of the cause of bad breath originates in the mouth. It is caused by the bacteria naturally found in the mouth. The bacteria break down food debris which creates by-products called volatile sulfur compounds that emit a smell similar to rotten eggs. Bacteria, just like humans, consume food and excrete waste. And it is these sulfur compounds (waste) that usually lie at the root of a person’s breath problems.
These bacteria need an environment free of oxygen, so they live in areas of the mouth that are the hardest to clean and most difficult to reach like the gum pockets around the teeth, the grooves in the tongue, and the deep grooves on the back of the tongue that you may not even be able to see.
Factors that lead to bad breath are: 1. Poor oral hygiene- infrequent or improper brushing and flossing habits can leave food particles for the bacteria, 2. Troubles or infections on the throat, lungs, or stomach such as tonsillitis, chronic bronchitis, or acid reflux. 3. Infections of the mouth such as tooth decay or periodontal disease, and 4. Dry mouth caused by salivary gland problems , medications, or by “mouth breathing”. Other factors include alcohol consumption and alcohol-containing mouth rinses, tobacco, foods like garlic, onion, and spicy foods, hunger, tobacco, braces, and even dentures!
The best ways to prevent bad breath are: 1. Proper oral hygiene– daily flossing and brushing the teeth and tongue to remove food particles from the mouth, 2. Regular dental exams and cleanings every 6 months to prevent tooth decay and periodontal disease 3. A healthy diet, lifestyle, and physical exercise to promote general physical health.
If you or a loved one is suffering from bad breath, please call our office today at 503-629-8005 for a free consultation.