Are you concerned or unsure why you have bad breath?
Bad breath, also known as hallitosis, is the presence of oral malodour which originates from the soft tissue of the mouth, tonsils, throat and sinuses. The condition affects approximately 20-50% of patients world wide. Many patients with bad breath can be self conscious about the condition and it can affect their social interaction with other people in close proximity. It is often to hear patients who suffer from bad breath being embarrassed when talking to family members, friends and colleages.
Bad breath is the result of anaerobic (air-hating) bacteria which naturally live within the oral and nasal cavities and respiratory tract. These bacteria produce Volitile Sulphur Compounds (such as hydrogen sulphide, methyl mercaptan) when they feed on protein found within your diet and break them down to simpler amino acids. These sulphur based compounds give bad breathe its distinctive rotten egg smell and taste.
The presence of these bacteria is normal as they help in the normal digestive process, but their number can increase causing the symptoms of bad breathe. These bacteria often lay in areas which are difficult to access for hygiene while feeding on sources of protein within the body, such as mucus, food particles, phlegm, blood and diseased tissue.
Bad Breath Testing, Assessments and Treatment in Brisbane
If you would like to find out more about bad breath testing or treatments to address your hallitosis, call us on 07 3357 4177 today to arrange a consultation.
At Windsor Dentists we are able to test your breathe for sulphur compounds with our portable oral malodour meter and can offer tailored treatment and management strategies.
Treatments can include:
- Periodic breath and saliva testing
- Gum (periodontal) disease therapy without the need for gum surgery
- Tonsil stone removal and irrigation
- Dry mouth management
- Effective self management strategies aimed at reducing bacterial levels
- Dietary counseling
- Guidance for bad breathe caused by the upper and lower respiratory tract and sinuses
We work closely with Brisbane based Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeons to address causes outside the scope of the oral cavity.
Causes of Bad Breathe
1. Dry Mouth
Salivary naturally protects the oral cavity and having a dry and acidic mouth encourages the growth of anaerobic bacteria by depriving the mouth of oxygen. Dry mouth is often due to a reduced flow or lack of saliva and can be exacerbated by medication, smoking, alcohol, exercise and dehyrdation. Counterintuitively, certain over the counter oral products such as alcohol mouthwashes and sodium lauryl sulphate containing toothpastes can also contribute an already dry mouth.
Another common complaint from bad breath suffers is a dry mouth in the morning, upon waking. Many patients often experience bad breathe straight after waking up as salivary flow rates drop significantly during sleep.
2. Food, Diet and Dieting
Bad breath can be exacerbated by foods which naturally have a strong odour to them. This includes garlic, onions, egg yolk, kim chi and other fermented products which can release sulphur compounds when eaten. Additionally, foods high in proteins such as dairy, meat, fish and eggs can be broken down by anaerobic bacteria to form amino acids, with sulphur compounds being released as a by product.
Patients on high protein low carbohydrate diets often experience “ketone breathe” as a result of the breakdown of the protein they have eaten. The process known as ketosis results in the production of ketone bodies which are either excreted in the urine or in the breath. Often this type of bad breath is difficult to resolve locally without changes to the diet.
Coffee, juices, citrus fruits and carbonated soft drinks can increase the acidity of the oral environment encouraging further colonisation by anaerobic bacteria.
3. Poor Oral Hygiene
If you don’t brush and floss daily, food particles remain in your mouth, causing bad breath. A colourless, sticky film of bacteria (plaque) forms on your teeth. If not brushed away, plaque can irritate your gums and eventually form plaque-filled pockets between your teeth and gums (periodontitis).
Your tongue also can trap bacteria that produce odors. Dentures that aren’t cleaned regularly or don’t fit properly can harbor odor-causing bacteria and food particles.
4. Mucous Issues or Post Nasal Drip
Mucous which originates from the nasal passage and collects at the back of the throat is very protein rich. Volatile sulphur products such as hydrogen sulphide, methyl mercaptan and dimethyl sulphide are released when these proteins are broken down to simpler amino acids.
The amount of mucous can vary with your health but can be exacerbated by certain medication or if you are dehydrated.
5. Tonsil Stones / Enlarged Tonsils
The lingual tonsils, located at the back of the mouth either side of the tongue, are a common area for the growth of bad breath causing bacteria. The folded surfaces of these tonsils can harbour bacteria which then feed on mucus, phlegm or food particles that become trapped within these folds. In some instances tonsils stones can form, which are calcifications developing from this debris. The presence of either enlarged tonsils and or tonsil stones can be a primary cause for bad breath.
6. Undiagnosed Gum Disease
Affecting up to 75% of the population, gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) results in bone and gum loss around the teeth. Left untreated or undiagnosed, these areas of bone loss can form gaps around your teeth which allow for the growth of bacteria deeper within the gums. These bacteria protect themselves by forming a biofilm preventing their removal. In its serious form, gum disease can cause tooth looseness and tooth loss.
Common signs of gum disease include:
- bleeding, swollen and tender gums
- bad breath
- blood after brushing or flossing
- loose and or gappy teeth
7. Illness, Disease and Medication
Almost all medications taken can cause bad breath as they tend to dry out the mouth and reduce saliva flow. Without saliva to protect your mouth and teeth, dental decay and bad breath can be exacerbate.
It is estimated that almost 70% of all prescribed and over the counter medication cause dry mouth to a certain extent. These medications typically include:
- high blood pressure and cholesterol medications
- hormone replacement therapy
- contraceptive pill
- asthma medication
In addition, conditions such as diabetes can have bad breath as a symptom. Many diabetics often suffer from ketone/acetone breath as a result of dangerous ketoacidosis. Patients often report a fruity yet pungent smell or taste.