bad breath

How Can My Calgary Dentist Help With Chronic Bad Breath?

How Can My Calgary Dentist Help With Chronic Bad Breath?

Halitosis, also known as chronic bad breath, can be a troublesome and embarrassing condition.  Although such products as gum and mouthwash can temporarily mask unpleasant odours, generally patients suffering from chronic bad breath require additional intervention beyond what an over-the-counter breath solution and even good oral hygiene routines can accomplish.   In determining how to solve or minimize halitosis, the first step your dentist will want to do is identify the cause or causes of your bad breath.

What Causes Chronic Bad Breath (Halitosis)?

There are several different factors which could be causing or contributing to your bad breath, including dental related issues, tobacco and alcohol use, medications, the foods eaten, mouth and other types of infection, dry mouth, poor oral hygiene and other chronic conditions.

Dental Hygiene Related Issues

One of the most common causes of halitosis are related to your overall dental health. If you have poor oral hygiene, food particles and odour causing bacteria (plaque) can be left on your teeth, gums and tongue and cause you to have bad breath.  Both cavities and inflamed gums can harbour odour causing bacteria which are difficult to brush and floss away, thereby causing chronic bad breath.  If you develop periodontitis, which is when pockets develop between your teeth and gums, plaque can get trapped in these pockets and also contribute to halitosis.  Regular visits to our Calgary dentist can help to avoid developing periodontitis by detecting and treating any potential gum related issues early.

Other Dental Issues

At times, patients may experience bad breath as a result of tooth decay, mouth or gum sores, or if they have developed an infection after dental surgery.  If you believe that your bad breath is a result of any of these issues, then you should see your dentist as soon as possible, particularly if you think that you may be suffering from an oral infection.  Any type of infection is considered to be a dental emergency, and as such you should call our dental office immediately for an assessment and one of our friendly dental team members will promptly schedule an appointment for you with our Calgary dentist on a date and time that is convenient for you.

Because of the importance of eliminating any potential oral health issues as a cause or contributory cause of chronic bad breath, one of our recommended first steps is to make an appointment with Dr. Dirk Thompson, a Calgary dentist, so that your overall oral health can be assessed and treatment recommendations be made.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, can not only be a very irritating and uncomfortable condition, but it can also cause bad breath.  Saliva, which is comprised of 98% water, plays a very important function in our oral health.  It helps to breakdown and wash away the food we eat and also wash away odour causing bacteria.  Saliva also helps as it acts as a protective coating to our teeth, which may help to protect our teeth from demineralization, especially caused by acidic foods and beverages.  Saliva may also even act to remineralize already eroded teeth (GI Society).  This protective coating therefore may also help to protect our teeth from cavities. 

Because of the critical function that saliva plays in our mouths, a lack of sufficient saliva can cause bacteria to multiply, thereby causing halitosis.  Dry mouth can occur due to hormonal changes, including those experienced in menopause, problems with salivary glands, excessive caffeine consumption, tobacco and alcohol use, some medications and other chronic conditions.   In addition to avoiding the foods and drinks that may be causing dry mouth, your Calgary dentist can make other recommendations to help alleviate this condition, including the use of a dry mouth rinse.


Some medications have the undesired side effect of causing bad breath.  Medications can cause bad breath either by drying out your mouth, or from the breakdown of the medication by your body, resulting in the odour produced by that breakdown being evident in your mouth and breath.


Tobacco products on their own often have an odour which can cause you to have an unpleasant odour to your breath.  Tobacco users also tend to suffer more from gum disease, and gum disease is one of the causes of bad breath (from the Mayo Clinic).


After eating, if you do not brush and floss your teeth, the food particles remaining in your mouth can cause odour causing bacteria to multiply, resulting in bad breath.  Also, certain foods, including garlic, onions and some spices, after being digested can cause foul smelling breath.

Other Related Health Issues

There are other chronic conditions that can contribute to bad breath, although they are not common.  These conditions include some cancers, metabolic disorders, and gastric reflux (GERD).  Bad breath may also be caused by liver disease, kidney disease or even diabetes (American Dental Association).  If your chronic bad breath appears to be related to an issue that cannot be explained by an issue with your oral health or the food you are eating, then our Calgary dentist would likely recommend that you see your family physician for further investigation.

Nose and Throat Infections

Post-nasal drip caused by nose and throat infections may lead to bad breath because it can increase the amount of odour causing bacteria in your mouth and throat (the Mayo Clinic). 

How Can I Prevent Halitosis?

The best thing you can do to prevent halitosis or, if you already have it, get rid of it, is to ensure you are as diligent as possible with your oral hygiene habits including brushing your teeth (and tongue!) at least twice per day and after every meal, flossing at least once per day and seeing your Calgary dentist for regular check-ups and dental hygiene cleanings.  According to the American Dental Association, sucking on sugar-free gum or candies can also help to stimulate saliva production and therefore may help alleviate dry mouth and help with bad breath.

If you still cannot determine the source of your chronic bad breath even after maintaining a thorough and consistent oral hygiene routine or trying over-the-counter products, it’s time to see your Calgary dentist and/or physician to make sure you do not have some more serious health issues at play. 

If you are struggling with chronic bad breath, call our dentist, Dr. Dirk Thompson, at 403.283.4252 for an appointment.  We’re here to help.

Please be advised that this blog post is for informational purposes only.  It is not to be taken or used as a substitute for dental, medical or other professional advice, treatment or diagnosis.  Always ask your dentist, physician or other healthcare professional for advice before altering your diet or healthcare routine.  Individual patient needs and oral healthcare concerns vary so please consult your dentist for more informtion about your specific dental health requirements.

Copyright: Dirk A. Thompson Professional Corporation operating as Advance Your Health Dental.  Dr. Dirk A. Thompson, D.D.S., is a general dentist in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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