Doc, why do I have bad breath?
This must be one of the most common questions I get asked on a week to week to basis. For such a straight forward question, there really isn’t a simple answer.
Some of the boring science…statistically, about 50% of the Canadian population has bad breath many of whom experience social discomfort as a result. The culprit to the bad odours are hydrogen sulphide, methyl mercaptan and organic acids that are produced largely by bacteria on the teeth and gums, but also on the tongue.
Bad breath could be a result of poor oral hygiene, medication where side effects are “dry mouth”, or even a build up of ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut whose bi-products can cause the problem. If you’re not flossing or you wear an appliance that’s trapping the fermenting bugs, your medication is slowing down your bodies natural saliva “flushing” mechanism or your stomach bacteria is out of whack, you may be suffering the consequences of Halitosis…aka Bad Breath.
Now for the good stuff…the solutions. Solutions are individual to the person, where a step-by-step protocol should be implemented to keep the process simple. The usual first line of defence is antibiotics for 7-14 days, coupled with proper oral hygiene instruction to maintain a lower overall oral and stomach bacteria. If the problem persists, daily oral rinses such as Chlorhexidine have been shown to be effective in treating the issue. Some extreme treatments could be tonsil and adenoid removal as they tend to harbour these bacteria at a high level.
It should be noted that, like all things medical, there are side effects and consequences to all treatments mentioned above. All options should be discussed thoroughly with your medical professional.