SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI—Whether it is bumping into a neighbor while you’re out shopping, making small talk in the close confines of a Christmas party, or meeting under the mistletoe, make sure you have fresh breath for the social interactions you’re likely to have this holiday season.
Before you assume that you don’t have bad breath, remember that the brain’s ability to acclimate to smells means you aren’t able to smell your own breath even with the breathing into cupped hands and sniffing technique. Try a simple fresh breath self-test for a more accurate representation of what your breath smells like to others. Use a spoon to scrape from the very back portion of your tongue toward the front of your mouth. Let the saliva dry and take a whiff of the spoon. This is probably the way your breath smells.
“Bad breath, which is medically called halitosis, is not something you have to live with or try to ineffectively cover up with breath mints or gum,” says Dr. Tracy Davis, who is one of the Springfield MO dentist at Barnett-Davis Dental Group. “We can help you find out the source and get your breath smelling fresh again.”
Causes Of Bad Breath
There are many factors that could be contributing to halitosis, but bad breath boils down to one cause: oral bacteria. These are just a few of the factors that affect your breath:
• Untreated periodontal disease
• Eating food or drinking beverages with potent odors
• Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia
• Sinus infections, allergies or post nasal drip
• Digestive issues
• Acid reflux
• Poor dental hygiene and overdue dental visits
• Smoking and other tobacco product use
Dealing With Bad Breath
Since oral bacteria is the main source of all bad breath problems, treating halitosis means controlling the bacteria in the mouth by removing it, treating conditions that promote its growth and using products to clean bacteria off hard-to-reach areas of the mouth.
“The first step is ruling out periodontal disease,” says Dr. Marc Barnett, a Springfield Missouri
Periodontist since 1984. “If you have that, we can treat it and breath will improve, but if gum disease isn’t to blame, then we can discuss other treatments or mouth rinses to get long-lasting fresh breath.”
Periodontal disease is an inflammatory condition caused by the buildup of plaque on teeth, and it is characterized by swollen, red gums and a receding gum line. The bacteria from gum disease causes toxins to form in the mouth and left untreated will damage the gums and supporting jawbone until tooth loss occurs.
“Every time you eat or drink something, food particles and plaque get on and in between your teeth,” says Dr. Nick Matthews, who offers family and cosmetic dentistry services. “Brushing and flossing are on the first line of defense against bad breath and cavities because they remove the food source of the bacteria.”
However, oral bacteria reside in areas that can’t be brushed, such as the very back of the tongue, back of the throat, tonsils and deep below the gum line, which makes regular dental appointments essential. Your body’s natural defense for these areas is saliva because it moistens and cleanses the mouth by neutralizing acids produced by plaque and washing away dead cells that accumulate on the tongue, gums and cheeks. Because saliva is so important, it is essential to deal with any condition causing dry mouth. Not only does dry mouth put you at an increased risk for cavities, it can cause bad breath.
“Some people may try mouthwash or breath mints to keep breath smelling fresh,” says Dr. Kelly Barnett, an Springfield Missouri Invisalign provider. “Those are only temporary fixes that mask odor. We can prescribe antiseptic mouth rinses that are far more effective and long lasting because they kill the germs that cause bad breath.”
Halitosis is not a condition that you need to continue to cover up be embarrassed about. Just call our office to schedule an appointment, and we can get you on your way to fresh breath and renewed confidence.