The Specialist

Bad breath can be socially embarrassing

Over 60,000 Bahamians suffer from chronic bad breath, called halitosis. Halitosis is embarrassing and can be socially debilitating. Many people spend lots of money on products to cover up this mouth odor social dilemma referred to as bad breath.

Many people try to treat bad breath with chewing gum, mints, sprays, or mouthwashes. These approaches to treatment are just blankets but do not treat the actual cause. We must get to the root of the problem and make some sense out of it.

The main cause of mouth odor, pure and simple, is rotting and decaying matter; the result of dental disease. Mouth bacteria are not all the same. Dental diseases, like periodontal disease and teeth decay is caused by different bacteria. Periodontal disease is a common culprit that causes bad breath. Some people have stinkier bad breath than others, because some types of bacteria smell worse than others.

Periodontal disease and cavities can be treated: The question is what treatment is necessary to rid the mouth of bad breath. A thorough periodontal examination is the first requirement, along with appropriate dental x-rays. If periodontal pockets are identified, signifying bone loss then this should be immediately treated. The bacteria in the crevices of the gums, and your body’s response to the bacteria is the culprit.

The role of the tongue: The tongue itself holds over 2,000 bacteria as a result of a breakdown of proteins and food residue. Many people benefit from using tongue scrapers. This act of scraping removes the bad smelling bacteria that cause disease. Most mouth odor originates at the back of the tongue. Studies show that the best secondary treatment for this is a mouth rinse containing chlorine dioxide, which is found in several products. At Center for Specialized Dentistry, we use Oxyfresh products. Only a capful of chlorine dioxide in the mouthwash in conjunction with tongue scraping is the treatment to solve the problem.

You can also measure your breath: Today there is a special machine that measures the odor that comes out of your mouth. It is called a halimeter. It measures the rotten egg gas seen in hydrogen sulfide, the fecal smell in methyl mercapten and the rotten meat odor found in cadeverine gases. These are the gases usually responsible for bad breath.

Could bad breath be caused by something else? Sure. We all know about onion, garlic, alcohol and morning breath, some of the components of which get right into our blood stream and bathe our lungs and skin in that odor. Could it be a stomach problem or respiratory infection or liver disease? Sure. But the most likely cause of mouth odor is inside the mouth.

Get a proper periodontal exam. With a good dental and periodontal examination, and using some of the latest diagnostic and treatment tools, you could be well on your way to solving the problem of stinky breath.

 • Dr. Kendal V.O. Major is the founder and CEO of the Center for Specialized Dentistry, which is a comprehensive family dental practice operating in New Providence and Grand Bahama. He is the first Bahamian specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He is also a certified fast braces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue, New Providence. He can be contacted at (242) 325-5165 or

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