Learn about the causes of Bad Breath (Halitosis) & find a practitioner in Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin to help you overcome Bad Breath (Halitosis) within New Zealand.
Bad breath - know medically as halitosis is a term used to described a noticeably odour that is exhaled in breathing. Bad breath can be made worse by a dry mouth, bacteria mixed with decaying food particles, poor dental hygiene, sinus problems, gum disease, digestive problems, smoking or other systemic problems.
Causes of bad breath (Halitosis)
Everybody suffers bad breath occasionally and it can affect one quarter
of adults regularly but when the condition is permanent there can many
The majority of people find their breath smells bad when waking up and is often referred to as 'morning breath'. This is a normal occurrence and is caused by the mouth becoming dry overnight due to a lack of saliva. When sleeping, the function of the saliva glands slows down and the flow of saliva that would normally wash away food particles decreases. Bacteria breaks down the residue of food releasing an unpleasant odour. Once you begin eating again saliva increases and the smell disappears.
Poor dental hygiene
In 90% of cases of bad breath poor dental hygiene is the cause. The mouth contains natural bacteria which helps to break down food and proteins. As this process takes place, a bad smelling gas is released. Any food that is trapped between the teeth begins to rot and the bacteria leads to bad breath. Another cause of bad breath is bacteria forming on the tongue (usually in a black coating) or abscesses in the mouth.
Halitosis can also occur when there's a build up of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a yellow-white soft deposit that can form on the teeth when food, saliva and bacteria combine. Poor dental hygiene and eating sugary foods causes tooth decay which is another cause of bad breath.
Gum disease can also cause bad breath as the condition causes the gum tissue around the teeth to become infected and inflamed.
Smokers will have breath that smells of stale smoke and smoking can lead to gum disease – a cause of bad breath. By stopping smoking you can lower the risk of gum disease and prevent smoke smelling breath.
Certain foods that are heavily flavoured with ingredients such as onion, garlic and spices can cause your breath to smell after eating. This is usually temporary and avoidable by not eating them but good oral hygiene will prevent any chronic problems. Alcohol and caffeine are strong smelling drinks that can cause bad breath. Caffeine can also lead to staining on the teeth so reduce the amount of coffee and tea you drink to prevent this.
Certain prescription medicines can lead to bad breath as a side-effect. If you're having this problem discuss alternatives with your GP
Although rare, certain medical conditions can lead to bad breath. Throat infections and tonsillitis can cause a build up of catarrh which leads to halitosis. Other medical causes include:
• Xerostomia (dry mouth) – Affects saliva flow leading to bacteria build up in the mouth
• Kidney or liver problems
• Food reflux
• Diets with low carbohydrate intake (i.e. Atkins)
Symptoms of bad breath (Halitosis)
The main symptom of bad breath is a foul smelling odour coming from the
mouth however someone with halitosis will not realise they have a
problem. The source of halitosis is at the back of the mouth in the
soft palate which is connected to the nose. The nose blocks odour in
the mouth and therefore the individual with bad breath doesn't realise
There are some characteristics of halitosis to look for if someone doesn't say you have bad breath:
Diagnosis of bad breath (Halitosis)
The best diagnosis of bad breath is by asking someone you know or your
dentist for an honest opinion. If you think you have a bad breath
problem don't try and mask it when visiting your dentist. Be honest so
they can look to see what the possible cause is.
Food decay can be treated by your dentist immediately and they'll also give you advice on maintaining proper oral hygiene to prevent tooth and gum decay in the future.
Should the problem not be oral, you'll be referred to a specialist to determine the underlying cause of the problem.