Oftentimes, you can see an ant on someone else, but you can’t see an elephant on yourself.
Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a funny thing. Like the quote above, it’s typical that the people who have it aren’t aware they have it, but are often the first to point it out on someone else.
What causes bad breath?
There are many causes of halitosis (bad breath), but the most common one is due to the accumulation of ‘anaerobic’ bacteria on the back of the tongue.
The bacteria are called anaerobic because they don’t need oxygen in order to survive. These bacteria break down food particles and the end product is the foul smell of volatile sulfur compounds.The best line of defense is to remove the bacteria that live on ‘these’ back surfaces of the tongue, along with the food particles that get lodged there.
Mouth rinses and breath mints are not the answer. All they do is change the bacterial flora in the mouth for a very short period of time. But soon enough, the bacteria return, so it’s really just a temporary fix. The solution is to mechanically remove the bacteria and the food that accumulates, and try to clean as far back on the tongue as you can.
You can use a tooth brush, a tongue scraper and even an inverted teaspoon to scrape off the debris. Try to do this twice a day…morning and night.
You may notice that when you wake up, your breath is at its worse…this is morning breath. The reason this happens is that there is less oxygen entering into the mouth when you are asleep, so the bacteria multiply. In addition to this, your mouth is ‘less active’, so the effect of the bacteria is more pronounced. Less active means that your salivary glands have been sleeping. This translates in there being less saliva to rinse and wash bacteria and particles away.
Once you start eating, the salivary flow increases and the bad breath will start to diminish. Combine this with proper brushing and flossing, and your bad breath should go away.
Unfortunately, in about 25% of the population, the bad breath doesn’t go away and remains a chronic problem.There are other causes of bad breath, aside from the bacteria on the back of your tongue that also break down food particles in the mouth: Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) is one of these, but the principle is similar to the mode of action as the bacteria that are found at the back of your tongue.
Gum disease is associated with bacteria that populate deep areas (known as deep pockets) around the teeth in your mouth. These are the same kind of bacteria as those found on the back of the tongue.
These bacteria in the deep pockets around your teeth break down food particles at the depth of these pockets and produce the foul smell associated with bad breath. This may be a good time to read or re-read the blog ‘Periodontal Disease’ as it will help to explain what a ‘deep pocket’ is…not the same type of deep pockets that Bill Gates has.
Other sources of bad breath:
1) the nose
5) different systemic disorders, and
6) dental decay
If you feel that you have this problem, try the above recommendations.
If they do not prove successful, please book an appointment at our dental clinic. We may be able to help. Call us today at (905) 791-3867 to book your appointment.
About Dr. Axelrad
Practicing dentistry for over 23 years, Dr. Robert Axelrad owns and manages his own dental practice in the heart of Brampton, Ontario. Affectionately known as ‘Brampton’s Gentle Dentist‘, patients include children, adults and seniors. Dr. Axelrad recently moved his practice to its current, state-of-the-art dental office at Bestgate Professional Center in Brampton, Ontario, Canada in 2002 to accommodate his growing list of happy patients.