The following information was provided by Cheek Dental, an EAST COBBER advertiser located at 2872 Johnson Ferry Road. For more information about services at Cheek Dental, visit its website at

Halitosis, or bad breath, is an embarrassing condition that no one wants. Eating mints or using mouth rinses often only masks the odor and does not solve the problem. So, what causes bad breath?

Most commonly we think of food as the culprit of bad breath. Certainly, eating garlic or drinking coffee can create an unpleasant oral odor, noticed especially as we exhale. Also, food particles not removed from around and in between the teeth will begin to decay, increasing the amount of bacteria in the mouth.

Chronic bad breath is one of the signs of gum disease. The bacteria associated with periodontal disease has a certain odor and may create a bad taste in the mouth. Smoking and tobacco use is not only bad for the lungs and your overall health, but also can cause bad breath. Tobacco users are also more likely to develop gum disease.

Certain medical conditions like post-nasal drip, acid reflux, and some metabolic conditions can create unpleasant odors in the mouth. Having a dry mouth, as is sometimes caused by certain medications or mouth breathing, means that food debris is not washed away by saliva and remains in the mouth to become rancid. Be sure to drink plenty of water and ask your dentist if he or she recommends using any prescription saliva substitutes or sucking on sugarless candies to stimulate saliva production.

The first step in trying to improve a halitosis problem is to have good oral hygiene. Most dentists recommend brushing
twice a day for two minutes using a fluoride toothpaste, flossing and/or using interdental picks or brushes between the a day, and brushing the tongue to remove bacteria trapped on the surface.

Also, have your teeth professionally cleaned by your hygienist at least twice a year. If you wear a denture or partial, be sure to remove it at bedtime and clean it thoroughly.

It is important to see your dentist regularly for examinations as he or she may detect signs of gum disease, dry mouth, or other medical problems that could be causing your bad breath. If you are constantly using mouthwashes and mints to cover up a bad odor, call your dentist.