Chronic halitosis is a condition in which a person produces an offensive odor from their oral or nasal regions and they’re unable to eliminate it through normal oral hygiene techniques, such as flossing or brushing. The occasional “morning breath” most people experience at one time or another is not really true halitosis. Halitosis knows no boundaries when it comes to age, sex, race, or socioeconomic levels. Furthermore, it can be truly demoralizing, and it negatively impacts the lives of as many as 50-80 million individuals in the United States alone. Because it’s such an embarrassing problem we have found that many patients are reluctant to even mention their problem to either their physician or dentist. Another unfortunate fact is that most halitosis sufferers have no idea that they have a breath problem unless somebody directly informs them. People suffering from halitosis have been known to become withdrawn and avoid social situations. There unfortunately have even been documented cases of suicide stemming from a halitosis problem.
What causes a halitosis condition?
There are a number of possible causes of halitosis. Below we have listed some possible causes and have separated them into medical and dental causes.
1. Sinus infections & abnormal sinus anatomies
2. Tonsilar infections or tonsiloliths
3. Lung diseases
4. Kidney diseases
5. Liver diseases
6. Blood disorders
8. Gallbladder dysfunction
11. Certain foods
1. Extensive dental decay
2. Periodontal (gum) disease
3. Oral infections or abscesses
4. Oral cancers
5. Xerostomia (dry mouth condition). Many medications can contribute to a condition of xerostomia.
6. Oral conditions resulting from post-nasal drips or discharges
7. Allergy conditions
8. A proliferation of specific types of gram negative anaerobic bacteria.
90% of breath problems are caused from a proliferation of specific types of gram negative anaerobic bacteria in the mouth. This has also been supported by extensive research in the field of halitosis. This proliferation is often a result of conditions such as allergies, sinus congestion or post-nasal drips, nasal polyps, and xerostomia which is a dry mouth condition. A common area where the bacteria congregates can actually be on the tongue itself. Because we rarely find halitosis resulting from a medical condition, we suggest that the first approach in eliminating the problem should be an oral approach. This approach is more economical, noninvasive, and it has a higher probability of success. We do recommend that all patients maintain their dental health by seeing their dentist regularly. Should a halitosis condition persist, despite the simple and noninvasive oral treatments that we offer, then we suggest that those patients should see their physician. Usually from the differential diagnosis that we perform at the first appointment, we can determine whether a halitosis problem is of a medical or dental origin.