What causes bad breath?

Bad breath is rarely a result of medical conditions but a dental professional and doctor can help find the cause of halitosis and offer treatment suggestions.

  • Friday, September 6, 2019 1:30pm
  • Life
Tina Subherwal. Photo courtesy of Tina Subherwal

Tina Subherwal. Photo courtesy of Tina Subherwal

By Tina Subherwal

Special to the Reporter

One of the most common questions I get asked (usually in a whisper) is: “I think I might have bad breath, doc. What can I do to fix that?”

Bad breath can be a sensitive subject. People are often unaware of the problem unless someone tells them about it, and this can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. Sometimes it’s simply because you had tuna fish for lunch. Other times, it’s because you drank too much coffee and not enough water, leaving you dehydrated. However, bad breath can also be an indication of a medical issue. If you have persistent halitosis (bad breath), we encourage you to talk to your dental professional and medical doctor.

So the question that we always get is: What do I to get rid of bad breath??

What is bad breath?

Halitosis can be caused by many factors: Particles of food left in the mouth (breakdown of these particles by bacteria releases sulfur compounds)

Dehydration

Coffee (I love my Starbucks too, so I hate to tell you this, but coffee is a double whammy — it can give you coffee breath and leave you dehydrated)

Dry mouth — this can be caused by several medical conditions and is a side effect of numerous medications

Eating foods with that cause bad breath, like onions and garlic

Crash diets such as fasting and low-carbohydrate diets (breakdown of fats produce ketones and ketones have an unpleasant aroma)

Periodontal disease or infection under the gums

Infection or inflammation of sinuses, throat, nose

Smoking

Drugs/vitamins

Medical issues including acid reflux, xerostomia, Sjogren’s disorder and others

How do you treat bad breath?

The most important and best treatment is to improve oral hygiene in the form of regular brushing, flossing, and hydration. Everyone should brush their teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day. Don’t forget to scrub your tongue to scrub away the bacteria that cause bad breath — they like to hide here! We encourage all our patients at Smile Studios to get an exam twice a year to check for cavities and gum disease.

Other steps to help treat bad breath include chewing sugar-free gum — make sure it is sugar free to prevent cavities. Remember to stay hydrated. This is especially important if you are drinking coffee or have dry mouth. An antimicrobial mouth wash can also help.

Remember to communicate concerns about bad breath to your dentist. Fortunately, bad breath is rarely a result of medical conditions but a dental professional along with your primary care doctor can help find out the cause of halitosis and offer treatment suggestions. Remember to tell them if you have acid reflux or if you are taking immunosuppressant medications or have a disease that has caused you to become immunocompromised.

Although it may seem embarrassing, remember that this is a very common problem.

Dr. Tina Subherwal maintains a private practice for family and cosmetic dentistry at Smile Studios in Redmond. She can be reached at drtina@smilestudiosredmond.com.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Life

Local musicians hold virtual benefit concert for mental health

The stream-a-thon supports NAMI Eastside and nonprofit Hold Your Crown

Is it safe to go to the dentist?

What precautions are dentists taking to protect patients?

Little Bit riding center in Redmond counting on upcoming virtual fundraiser

The 35th annual Reins of Life Gala Auction is going virtual this year, including an online auction, raise the paddle and online event.

Medic One Foundation’s Gratitude Meals offer support to first responders, local businesses

The initiative provides hearty lunches to first responders staffing the COVID-19 testing sites as they work to test their colleagues.

UW students create Spira app to gather COVID-19 data

The app was created to screen for respiratory diseases but the teen creators shifted their focus once the COVID-19 outbreak began.

Redmond Middle School student raises money for low-income families

Om Shah, 13, created a GoFundMe to support the Seattle Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund.

‘Don’t assume it can’t happen to you’

Federal Way resident Evelyn Allcorn shares story of her husband’s battle with COVID-19 after he tested positive on March 28.

Savannah Lynn and Will Chadek in the Second Story Repertory of Redmond’s production of “The Fantasticks.” “The Fantasticks” had been performed three times by the organization until coronavirus concerns resulted in the cancellation of the remaining dates. Photo by Michael Brunk
How is the coronavirus affecting the arts?

Representatives from Eastside arts institutions discuss their experiences.

Madison Miller/staff photo
                                Aleana Roberts tries out the Jelly Jolts’ braille menu at Molly Moon’s on Feb. 23. From left: Roberts, Sanj Saini, Varnika Bhargava and Katiali Singh.
LWSD teens reveal braille menu at Molly Moon’s in Redmond

From 3-5 p.m. on Feb. 23, all sales from Molly Moon’s went to the Lighthouse for the Blind.

Standing room only at historical talk on Redmond’s ties to fascism

Redmond Historical Society presents latest installment of Saturday Speaker Series.

Making a human connection in a sea of social media

A monthly health column about natural medicine.