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Gum Disease and Bad Breath

Everyone gets bad breath sometimes. It may be caused by foods like garlic and onion, but something more serious may the real culprit. Problems with your gums may contribute to bad odors in your mouth. Here's how gum disease and bad breath are connected and what you can do to prevent them.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Gum disease typically results from poor oral hygiene. If you have any of the below symptoms, it's a good idea to make an appointment with your dentist to check your gum health:

  • Bleeding, swollen or tender gums

  • Sensitive or loose teeth

  • Receding gums or teeth that appear longer

  • Pain when chewing or a misaligned bite

  • Bad breath

In its early stage, known as gingivitis, the damage to your gums may be reversible. However, once you've developed the more serious form of gum disease, known as periodontitis, the breakdown of your gum tissues is irreversible.

Cause of Bad Breath

Bad breath, or halitosis, is caused by bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria break down proteins and release volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), which have a bad smell. Gum disease accumulates bacteria in the mouth, thus contributing to bad breath.

Treatment for Gum Disease and Bad Breath

Periodontitis requires treatment from a dental professional. Treatment may involve a deep cleaning called scaling and root planing, where the dental specialist eliminates all the bacteria above and below the gumline. Then, antimicrobial medications may be prescribed to control bacteria in the mouth. In more severe periodontal cases, you may need gum flap surgery or bone or tissue grafts to replace the oral structures lost.

The good news is that maintaining a strong and consistent oral care routine will lower your risk of both gum disease and halitosis. Follow these steps to keep your oral health in tip-top shape:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.

  • Floss once every day.

  • See your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.

Sticking to a good oral hygiene routine will help you feel more confident not only about your breath, but also about the overall health of your mouth.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

Brian Y. Kuo DDS FAGD

(626) 800-8022


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