Understanding Chronic Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Jamie J. Alexander on September 20, 2021

“Conversations about bad breath can be sensitive for patients, but there are underlying oral health conditions I can discover or eliminate, such as gum infection or bacterial deposits in the papillae of the tongue – or even bacteria collecting in the folds and crevices of the tonsils and inadequately cleaned dentures,” says Boynton Beach dentist Dr. Jamie Alexander.

In some cases, halitosis (bad breath) is due to foods such as onions, or it may be due to tobacco products and alcohol consumption. It is sometimes due to persistent dry mouth which can be a side effect of some medications and radiation therapy of the head and neck. Sometimes, it signals a systemic health condition.

The most frequent systemic disease conditions associated with bad breath are respiratory infections, diabetes, and liver disease. To determine if halitosis is due to an oral health condition or a systemic disease, dentists and medical doctors are both consulted.

The good news is that your dentist is a great place to start.

Sometimes a dental consultation will lead to a medical referral for diagnosis of systemic disease. For example, diabetic acidosis is one disease condition that has a distinctive odor, and not every dental patient is aware they are diabetic or that their diabetes is uncontrolled.

Dentists are usually on the front line of evaluating and treating oral health problems, and many times oral bacteria and/or yeast infection will be found to be the cause of halitosis. Your dentist and hygienist can inform you about halitosis conditions and oral hygiene procedures including denture cleaning. In addition to increased oral hygiene and treatment by a dentist, you may need to make lifestyle changes such as cessation of tobacco use or alcohol consumption to eliminate halitosis and improve your health.

“I want all my dental patients to feel comfortable discussing the topic of bad breath with me and our hygienist,” says Dr. Jamie Alexander. “This is a common problem that affects many people, and we can help. Your primary care physician will help make an appropriate diagnosis if the source of your bad breath is not due to oral hygiene and treatable oral infection. Feel free to give us a call to schedule a consultation.”