Halitosis and periodontitis, hand-in-hand

Dra. Libertad Caro
Specialist in Periodontology and Dental Implantology

Halitosis, also known as bad breath, is defined as a combination of unpleasant odours coming from one’s mouth. It is strongly linked with periodontal diseases, is very common, and as a general rule requires immediate gum treatment.

Causes of bad breath

95% of patients’ cases of halitosis are related to an oronasal problem, with 5% stemming from a nasal problem and the rest, the majority of them, from the mouth.

Oral halitosis occurs in patients with anaerobic bacteria which can degrade dietary proteins and form sulphurous amino acids, which are the cause off the characteristic oral odour. The excess of bacteria is found especially in individuals who have swollen gums with periodontal pockets, caused mainly by gingivitis and periodontitis.

If halitosis is associated with gingivitis you will note red swollen gums that bleed easily or become enlarged along with the interdental papillae (the part of the gums between your teeth). When linked to periodontitis you will note inflamed and swollen gums that bleed easily, as well as periodontal pockets, receding gums and bone destruction. Note: smokers’ gums usually do not bleed even though they have this disease! It is also common for the patient to suffer from gingivitis or periodontitis and not have any of the aforementioned signs. That is why it is recommended to visit a dental clinic specialised in recognising these diseases.

How to cure halitosis?

Bad breath can be dealt with in most cases by proper oral hygiene and by a thorough cleaning of the gums. Antiseptics contained in toothpaste and mouthwash can sometimes also be used.

Prevention is the best solution

The best way to have healthy gums and avoid problems such as halitosis is to take rigorous care of your oral health and not forget about tongue hygiene, since the tongue is where a large amount of bacteria builds up. Therefore the role of the dentist is crucial as far as detecting the problem, since on many occasions patients are not aware of their bad breath, but also because other people may think they have bad breath and that not be the case.

If you have any questions on the issue, we would love for you to share them with us, and we will do what we can to help you.