Bad breath is more than just a social inconvenience, it can be a serious social problem. If people can’t stand your breath, it makes it very hard to interact with them socially, and you definitely can’t make a positive impression. But it’s more than that: it could be a sign of serious oral health problems. Fortunately, by treating these, we can eliminate your bad breath and improve your oral health.
What Causes Bad Breath
There are many benign causes of bad breath, such as eating smelly food or shifting your metabolism with a low-carb diet.
Sometimes, bad breath can be related to a serious health condition such as diabetes.
But often, bad breath, especially when it’s persistent, it’s related to bacteria living in your mouth. There are two kinds of bacteria in your mouth: aerobic and anaerobic. Aerobic bacteria breathe oxygen just like you and me, and they exhale oxygen compounds that are not particularly smelly, like water and carbon dioxide.
But anaerobic bacteria don’t breath oxygen, in fact, it’s toxic to them. Instead, they breathe sulfur, and they exhale sulfur compounds that can be very smelly. Large colonies of anaerobic bacteria will produce a lot of stinky sulfur compounds, causing bad breath.
These anaerobic bacteria shelter in places where oxygen doesn’t reach. It may be in your tonsils as part of a tonsil stone. It may be between your teeth, or it may be below your gumline. Or it may be inside an infected tooth.
Treating Bad Breath
First, we will start with a comprehensive exam to determine the exact source of anaerobic bacteria. We will check all the common places and find out where they are living. Once we know where the anaerobic bacteria are located, we will know how to root them out.
If anaerobic bacteria are living between your teeth, we will recommend more regular flossing. For anaerobic bacteria at or below the gum line, we might recommend more regular visits to our office. This will help us prevent the buildup of anaerobic bacteria under the hardened plaque, tartar. For some sources, more serious treatments may be necessary.
If bacteria have infected below your gum line, we will recommend gum disease treatment. This will not only eliminate your bad breath, but will help protect against the negative consequences of gum disease.
If an infected tooth is the cause of your bad breath, we will normally recommend a root canal. A root canal will remove all the infected material from the tooth and put in a filler that will keep the anaerobic bacteria from moving back in. In some cases, an infected tooth may not be a good candidate for a root canal, and we will recommend extraction and replacement with either a dental bridge or dental implant.