Like body odour, bad breath is something no one wants to deal with, especially in public. Given the quality of modern oral care and the number of products available for maintaining good dental hygiene, it should be avoidable. Some people, however, suffer with bad breath from dry mouth problems, which have little to do with poor hygiene. The good news is, you can take steps to identify and treat the problem, as well as prevent it from recurring.
Causes of Mouth Dryness
Ongoing dryness of your mouth can be a symptom of various medical conditions, including Parkinson's disease, as the Journal of Parkinson's Disease reports, or even diabetes. According to the Indian Dental Association, dry mouth (xerostomia) is a major contributor to the development of secondary infections. This also increases severity of the primary diseases of the oral cavity. Xerostomia can have numerous causes; the most common being those induced by drugs, ageing and radiation. Reduction of salivary flow rate when caused by drugs is reversible, but when caused by ageing, infection and radiation it is often irreversible. In HIV-positive patients, a low volume of saliva is accompanied by chemical changes that affect its buffering qualities. Minor illnesses such as mild dehydration, vomiting or flu may also result in a temporary dry mouth.
Reasons for Bad Breath
The use of medication doesn't directly cause you to develop bad breath. Instead, the chemicals found in the medications inhibit the production of saliva by your salivary glands. According to the Indian Dental Association, saliva fights the growth of bacteria on your teeth. This makes it easier for acids from bacteria to attack your teeth. Without sufficient saliva to perform these tasks, the increased presence of bacteria in your mouth – coupled with dry oral tissues – produces the odour commonly associated with bad breath from dry mouth.
Diagnosing the Problem
Getting a clear diagnosis of the cause of your dry mouth problem is paramount, as it will enable your doctor to treat you properly. Most dental professionals can quickly determine whether the cause is related to your oral health, and if you're diagnosed with periodontal disease or cavities, your dentist can resolve the issues. If your dry mouth is a result of medication or another medical condition, you may need the care of a physician or specialist to diagnose and address it.
Most patients require a two-pronged approach to treating dry mouth problems. Initially, your doctor is likely to recommend treatment for your symptoms, which can range from dental sores to bad breath. Treatment may also include antibiotics for signs of oral infection, or an oral product which help shield ulcers and mouth sores so they heal. At the same time, your physician will investigate the cause of your dry mouth, conducting tests for any medical conditions or making adjustments to your medications and dosages.
If you find your medication alternatives are limited, or you're diagnosed with one of the medical conditions that cause xerostomia, your best method of preventing bad breath from dry mouth is to maintain a high level of oral hygiene in order to control the bacteria and avoid the development of bad breath and mouth sores. You can ask your doctor to recommend products specially formulated to prevent dry mouth, and avoid habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol and caffeine. Try to maintain your stress levels, and protect your overall health to the best of your ability to avoid this pesky occurrence.