A Coating on the Back of the tongue can cause bad breath
Bad breath, also called halitosis, is generally caused by a buildup of bacteria or debris inside the mouth. For some people, this odor-causing buildup occurs on the back portion of the tongue. However, it is not always clear why this tongue buildup occurs.
Possible causes of tongue-based bad breath may be due to postnasal mucus dripping from the nose to the throat, which forms a whitish coating. This coating often contains many different forms of bacteria which may thrive on the tongue’s rough surface and cause unpleasant odors in the mouth. The back portion of the tongue is especially susceptible to bacterial overgrowth, as this area is relatively dry. The lack of saliva combined with the tongue’s natural grooves and fissures can trap food particles, dead cells, and mucus from the nasal cavities. As a result, this environment can quickly become a medium for bacterial growth.
According to Dr. Harold Katz, “nearly 90 percent of endogenous bad breath that is not caused by digestive upsets or metabolic diseases like diabetes is actually due to noxious bacterial buildup on your tongue.” Tongue bacteria demonstrate a distinctive, smelly odor because of volatile sulfuric compounds and polyamines. This coating can develop on the back of your tongue even if you otherwise practice good oral hygiene, especially in individuals with allergies or certain infections like thrush. Although most people brush their teeth daily and floss, few are aware that it is just as essential to clean your tongue as it is to clean your teeth and gums.
To combat bad breath from your tongue, look at your tongue in the mirror to see it if has a coating or an unusual (white) color. If you notice anything suspicious, see your healthcare provider, as he or she can treat any illness involving chronic postnasal drip that may be causing a bacterial coating. Also, make sure to visit your dentist for regular cleanings and exams and to maintain a good oral-hygiene routine of brushing your teeth and tongue, flossing, and rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash every day.
Digestive disorders may cause a bad odor in your mouth
Bad breath doesn’t always come from oral sources. In fact, issues in other areas of your body can sometimes make your breath have an unpleasant oral odor, such as acid reflux or bowel problems. Although these forms of bad breath are much less common than the forms created by poor oral hygiene or dry mouth, it does affect some people chronically.
Bad breath is not necessarily caused by poor digestion, but it can sometimes indicate the presence of a digestive issue. For example, some people are actually born with a rare defect in a pouch in their esophagus. This pouch-the Zenker diverticulum-can be misshapen and can collect food particles, which decompose and release a foul odor whenever you speak or exhale. Those who suffer from this birth defect often experience regurgitation of undigested food when lying down or bending over, in addition to suffering from the effects of bad breath.
Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also prompt bad breath. In this chronic digestive condition, stomach acid and contents push up into the esophagus and lower throat, causing heartburn, esophageal damage, and bad breath. Alternatively, elevated amounts of gut bacteria may cause digestive discomfort and bad breath, especially after eating sugary foods. This is due to yeast and candida in the gut feeding on ingested sugars. To prevent this overgrowth, some doctors suggest eating probiotics and fiber regularly to cleanse your digestive system.
To treat bad breath caused by digestive issues, speak to your doctor and your dentist about your concerns. Your doctor may recommend you to a gastroenterologist or other specialist, and your dentist can assist you in combating bad breath and maintaining an effective oral-hygiene routine of brushing, flossing, and using an antibacterial mouthwash as needed. You might also consider adjusting your diet to avoid acidic foods and drinks, as these can irritate a sensitive digestive system and cause additional oral problems.
Does mouthwash eliminate a bad oral odor?
Bad breath, also called halitosis, is often the result of poor oral hygiene. Without regular cleaning, food particles and bacteria can accumulate around your teeth, tongue, and gums. Once this debris begins to rot, it gives off an unpleasant smell whenever you speak or exhale.
Fortunately, maintaining a healthy oral-hygiene routine is a simple but effective way of combating the effects of bad breath. Brushing your teeth, tongue, and gums with fluoride toothpaste after every meal or snack and flossing daily are two important habits to prevent bad breath. In addition, many people can benefit from using a mouthwash daily. Antibacterial mouthwashes are designed to kill microorganisms and to neutralize any chemicals in the mouth that may lead to bad breath.
Chemicals in mouthwash include chlorhexidine, cetylpyridinium chloride, chlorine dioxide, zinc chloride, and triclosan. These can be placed into four general groups: antimicrobial agents kill and limit the growth of bacteria; fluoride reduces tooth decay and strengthens tooth enamel; astringent salts act as temporary deodorizers; and odor neutralizers can chemically inactivate odor-causing compounds.
Some people dislike using a chlorhexidine-based mouthwash for an extended period of time because of its unpleasant taste, burning sensation when used too often, and temporarily darkening effects on the teeth and tongue. Additionally, many mouthwashes also include alcohol as an active ingredient. Some individuals are reluctant to use alcohol-based mouthwashes because of concern that long-term use may increase the risk of oral cancer, although this correlation has not been clinically verified. Studies have demonstrated, however, that use an antibacterial mouthwash as directed and as part of a healthy oral-hygiene routine of brushing and flossing can be effective in combating bad breath. Your dentist can advise you about whether using a mouthwash is suitable for your oral-health needs. He or she may recommend that you use a mouthwash with fluoride or antimicrobial agents as part of your daily oral-hygiene routine.
Dry mouth (xerostomia) can cause bad breath
Bad breath associated with a dry mouth is caused by the reduction of saliva. This reduced saliva flow impairs the natural cleansing mechanisms of the mouth. Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, can contribute to unpleasant oral odor and cause discomfort in the mouth.
Dry mouth is not a disease itself. Instead, it is a common side effect of over 400 prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Although dry mouth commonly occurs in most people after a night’s sleep, dry mouth may also occur with the use of certain medications, from prolonged snoring or mouth breathing, or as a result of salivary-gland problems. Additional reasons for dry mouth include a lack of fluid in the body (dehydration), nutritional deficiencies, the presence of another medical condition or disease (such as in autoimmune disorders like Sjögren’s syndrome), or radiotherapy to the neck and head areas.
If you suffer from dry mouth, you need to pay greater attention to your teeth. When maintaining your daily oral-hygiene routine of brushing your teeth, tongue, and gums and flossing regularly, use an extra-soft toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste after every meal and before going to bed. Also, avoid using tobacco products and consuming alcohol or caffeine, as these substances contribute to dry mouth and can exacerbate odor by increasing odor-causing bacteria.
To prevent bad breath caused by chronic dry mouth, make sure you are drinking enough water each day. Six to eight glasses of water a day is the minimum recommended amount; this will help reduce oral odor by washing away food particles and bacteria. Using a humidifier in your bedroom and avoiding breathing through your mouth can also help improve natural saliva flow. If your medications are making you experience bad breath and dry mouth, ask your dentist to recommend an over-the-counter saliva substitute remedy or speak to your doctor about adjusting your medication.
Flossing every day to combat halitosis
Dentists estimate that approximately 80% of bad breath, also known as halitosis, is caused by an oral source. Often, cavities or gum disease can create bad breath; both of these conditions are caused by accumulated debris on and between the teeth. Once this debris hardens into plaque or calculus, it can be difficult to remove and can lead to long-term oral odor.
Bad breath may be combated and prevented, however, by simply using dental floss daily in addition to brushing with fluoride toothpaste. Flossing daily improves bad breath by removing food particles and bacteria that can become lodged between your teeth. These particles and bacteria can form a whitish film between teeth and emit sulfuric compounds that have unpleasant odors. If left untreated, dental plaque can lead to chronic bad breath and other oral-health issues like gum disease.
Flossing allows you to remove debris and plaque from the spaces between teeth where a toothbrush might not be able to reach. Most dentists recommend flossing between your teeth at least once a day after brushing, preferably twice per day. In addition to removing food particles and bacteria that have become lodged, flossing also helps prevent periodontal disease, which is another common cause of bad breath. If you are unsure how to clean between your teeth efficiently, ask your dentist or dental hygienist at your next cleaning or exam.
When you first begin to floss, your gums may bleed slightly. This should subside within a few days of regular flossing. If bleeding persists for longer or becomes widespread in your mouth, see your dentist, since frequent bleeding can indicate the presence of gum disease. To effectively treat bad breath, make sure you are maintaining a good oral-hygiene routine of brushing your teeth, tongue, and gums in addition to daily flossing and using an antibacterial mouthwash as needed.
Heavy smokers’ breath is described as a “smelly ashtray”
Smoking tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars is one of the most common causes of bad breath, also known as halitosis. Smoking creates harsh, dry conditions in the mouth by limiting saliva, which is responsible for cleaning small odor-causing particles of food and bacteria from your mouth. With limited saliva production and toxic chemicals regularly deposited in your mouth, bad breath can continue for many years and may progressively worsen.
The most immediate way that smoking causes bad breath is by depositing toxic smoke particles in your throat and lungs. Tobacco-smoke chemicals and additives can remain in the mouth for long periods of time, contributing to other secondary causes of bad breath. Research has been conducted to determine which components of tobacco smoke cause such an unpleasant odor. Reviews discovered that tobacco smoke possesses over 60 aromatic hydrocarbons, most of which are linked with cancer in addition to creating a bad smell. Smoking as little as one-half of a cigar can leave these smelly deposits in saliva.
In addition to making your breath smell unpleasant, smoking can also stain your gums and teeth and lessen your sense of taste. Over time, smoking can leave teeth with a thick coating of tartar. To make matters worse, smoking also increases the risk of developing gum disease, which can exacerbate bad breath and damage gums.
Bad breath can be an early sign of oral cancer, which is especially a concern for those who smoke, as tobacco use is the top risk factor for developing oral cancer. The best way to reduce your risk of cancer and to limit bad breath is to stop smoking or using other tobacco products. Stopping smoking will lower your risk of gum disease and dental stains, and it will also help restore healthy saliva flow to cleanse your mouth more regularly. To promote better oral health, see your dentist regularly and follow a comprehensive oral-hygiene routine of flossing and brushing after every meal.
Is morning bad breath equal to halitosis?
Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a chronic condition of breath with an unpleasant odor. Experiencing bad breath periodically does not necessarily mean that you are suffering from halitosis, however. Some forms of bad breath such as “morning mouth” are generally considered normal and are therefore not regarded as health concerns.
“Everyone has morning breath to some degree,” says Dr. Sally J. Cram, a periodontist and a consumer adviser for the American Dental Association. Occasional bad breath in the morning is usually the result of diminished saliva production at night. During the day, saliva regularly washes away decaying food and other sources of odor. But at night, this saliva production is lessened, sometimes causing your mouth to feel dry. In these dryer night conditions, dead cells can more readily adhere to your tongue and the inside surface of your cheeks. Bacteria in the mouth can digest these dead particles and release compounds with a strong, unpleasant odor.
Smokers also experience greater amounts of bad morning breath. Smoking not only causes saliva to dry up, but can also raise your mouth’s temperature, thereby allowing bacteria to breed more rapidly and cause bad breath. Also, some people breathe primarily through their mouths at night, which can exacerbate dry mouth and worsen morning breath.
Morning bad breath can be lessened by flossing and brushing your teeth, tongue, and gums after eating in the evening and by rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash shortly before bed. Additionally, limit alcohol consumption during the day, as alcohol can cause dry mouth. Dentists maintain that drinking large amounts of beer, wine, and hard liquor can cause bad breath for eight to ten hours afterwards. Bad breath can also be lessened by drinking plenty of water daily to encourage adequate saliva production. Morning bad breath will usually clear once the flow of saliva increases, generally after you start to eat breakfast.
Which doctors may treat bad breath?
For those who suffer from chronic bad breath, also known as halitosis, a home oral-care routine may not be enough to combat odor. Even if you are maintaining an effective oral-hygiene routine of brushing your teeth, tongue, and gums and flossing after every meal or snack, you may still be experiencing bad breath. If this is the case, you should see a doctor or a dentist.
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, over 90% of bad breath cases are linked to issues in the mouth, throat, and tonsils. As a result, seeing a dentist is often the wisest option to treat chronic bad breath. Your dentist can perform regular cleanings and exams, and he or she can also conduct further tests to ascertain what parts of your mouth are contributing to bad breath. Generally, your dentist is able to treat the causes of your bad breath. If he or she determines that your mouth is healthy and not responsible for bad breath, your dentist may refer you to your family doctor or to a specialist for treatment.
Alternatively, another illness such as diabetes, cancer, or a respiratory infection can lead to symptoms involving bad breath. For cases like these, you should see your primary healthcare provider to diagnose and treat these underlying causes of unpleasant oral odor. Sometimes medications are to blame for causing bad breath. If you suspect this may be the case, ask your prescribing physician if the medication can be adjusted or if he or she can suggest other options.
Bad breath in infants or young children may indicate an infection or an undiagnosed medical issue. In these cases, consult your child’s pediatrician or dentist as soon as possible. For adults and children, taking proper care of your teeth and visiting the dentist at least twice a year are the simplest ways to avoid bad breath and other oral-health concerns.