What Is Halitosis?

  • By Peter
  • 10 Aug, 2016

What Is Halitosis?

Halitosis is the clinical, technical term for bad breath. When you wear braces, it may seem like you’re constantly waging a war against bad breath. Rest assured, you are not alone. Over 80 million people in the U.S. suffer with halitosis. The good news is that halitosis can be treated.

What Causes Halitosis?

Bad breath is usually caused by infrequent brushing and flossing, but it can happen for a variety of other reasons, including reasons unrelated to oral hygiene.

For example, certain medical conditions can increase a person’s risk of developing chronic halitosis. People with diabetes, sinus problems, dry mouth (a condition called xerostomia), liver issues, and other ailments often struggle with halitosis. Smoking and other types of tobacco use also increase your chances of having bad breath.

When bad breath is the result of poor brushing habits, it occurs because food particles get trapped between the teeth, around the gums, and on the tongue. As food decays, it emits a foul odor.

It’s especially important to brush and floss regularly when you wear braces, as food can easily build up around brackets and wires, leading to bad breath and tooth decay. Poor oral hygiene can also slow down your orthodontic treatment, keeping you in braces longer. Isn’t that a good enough reason to brush more often?

If you have bad breath, you may notice it tends to be worse in the morning – the infamous “morning breath” you’ve probably heard about. This is because the body produces less saliva during sleep. Normal saliva production washes food particles out of the mouth, so bad smells don’t have a chance to develop.

Is Your Brushing Routine Making the Grade?

If you wear braces, it’s important to be an A+ brusher (and flosser). Brush at least twice a day and preferably after every meal. If you can’t brush because you’re at school or work, at least rinse your mouth with water after you consume a meal or any beverage other than water. A good rinse will stop bacteria from clinging to your teeth and around the gum line. It also prevents acid from attacking your enamel.

It’s also important not to neglect the other areas of your mouth. You should brush your tongue each time you brush your teeth. Your brushing routine should also include cleaning the area where your teeth meet your gums. However, it’s equally important to avoid aggressive brushing, which can hurt enamel and cause the gums to recede. Many orthodontic patients benefit from using a sonic or electric toothbrush. These devices help many overzealous brushers avoid pressing too hard or scrubbing the teeth and gums too vigorously. You don’t necessarily need an expensive sonic toothbrush to get great results. Many electric toothbrushes available in drug stores do a good job of keeping the teeth healthy and bacteria-free.

Other Treatments for Halitosis

If adjusting your brushing routine doesn’t take care of your bad breath problem, you may have a health condition that requires treatment from a dentist or orthodontist. In some cases, halitosis is caused by an infection. Your orthodontist can prescribe antibiotics that take care of the infection. A dentist or orthodontist can also give you a prescription-strength mouthwash that reduces odor-causing bacteria.

Get on the Path to a Healthy Smile

Your smile is the first thing many people notice about you. If you’re self-conscious about your smile, it can hurt your self-esteem and your social life. Orthodontic treatment can give you the beautiful, glowing smile you’ve always dreamed about.

In our practice, we treat adults and children in the greater San Diego region, including La Jolla, Carmel Valley, and Del Mar. Call today to schedule an initial consultation.

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