United Dental Alliance
United Dental Alliance

Is The Tongue Really The Primary Reason For Bad Breath Or Halitosis?

| September 6, 2012

One of the top reasons individuals seek the care of a dentist is their concern of having bad breath. Halitosis or bad breath is a common ailment that affects the majority of people at one time or another. Although it is common to have transient episodes with this problem, persistent or chronic struggles can be a sign of a much larger medical or dental issue.

There are a handful of reasons for the problem of halitosis. The primary reason for bad breath is from the types of foods that are consumed. Foods with strong odors that linger in the mouth such as garlic, onions, and certain spices can retain their aroma and deliver a strong scent when one exhales. Poor digestion also tends to exacerbate this condition. Although breath mints and mouthwashes are commercially promoted to curb bad breath, their usage can only temporarily mask the oral odors. True remedies are discovered when better oral hygiene is practiced to reduce the sulfur compounds produced by bacteria on the teeth and tongue’s surface. More importantly, the best remedy is when the bacteria and residue on the tongue is removed.

It is common for the focus to be on proper tooth brushing and flossing when oral hygiene instructions are given in a dental office; however, not enough emphasis is given on how and when the tongue should be cleaned. Every time the teeth are cleaned, the tongue also should be cleaned. A toothbrush and/or tongue scraper can be used to remove any food residue, bacteria, and debris which have accumulated on the back of the tongue. If adequate time and effort are used to clean the tongue, one should notice having better breath. Since self-diagnosis of halitosis is extremely difficult, asking a trusted friend or family member is the best way to identify if there is a problem or if the issue is improving.

Although the tongue is typically the culprit in bad breath, halitosis can stem from other reasons. Periodontal disease (gum disease), dry mouth syndrome (xerostoma), cigarette smoking, and some medical conditions can create breath malodor. Visiting one’s family dentist and having a comprehensive examination and full set of x-rays can determine if periodontal disease is an issue. Treatments are available that can quickly improve the health and odor of one’s mouth. If not enough saliva to lubricate the mouth is produced, then dry mouth syndrome due to health and medication issues makes it is difficult for proper chewing and swallowing to occur. As a result, food debris can get trapped in the mouth and tongue which provides an environment rich for bacterial growth. Options are available to alleviate this problem. When an individual stops smoking, not only will his breath improve, but his general health also will improve.

If one has concerns, the family’s general dentist is a great resource for answers to improve one’s breath. Treatments and products are available to help improve one’s dental hygiene and dental health.

Kendall Wood received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Kendall is a member of the American Dental Association, the Oregon Dental Association, the Southern Willamette Dental Society, American Dental Society of Anesthesiology, and the American Academy of Implant Dentistry.

He has completed the OBI II training course, moderate IV sedation, and OHSU’s maxi implant course. Kendall has completed part I of the fellowship exam for the American Academy of Implant Dentistry and is currently working on completing part II of his implant fellowship credentials. For more information about this topic and many other dental health topics please visit his dental practice website at www.albanydentalhealth.com

Tags: bad breath, better breath, breath improve, having bad breath, having better breath, periodontal disease

Category: Patient Care

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