Halitosis Dry Mouth

Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a condition in which your body slows down your production of saliva, a substance naturally produced by the body. The main role of saliva is to keep your mouth clean and healthy by washing away debris and food particles in your mouth between meals and brushings, thereby reducing halitosis, or bad breath.

However, when your body significantly reduces its saliva production, it not only creates dry mouth, but it also changes the acidity of your mouth, leading to the growth of the bacteria that produce sulfur compounds. These putrid-smelling sulfur compounds, known as Mercaptans, can cause you to develop chronic bad breath.

As dry mouth persists, the bacteria in your mouth will become more concentrated, leading to stronger halitosis that can be smelled at a greater distance. As a result, finding ways to prevent dry mouth and re-stimulate saliva production are key to warding off chronic bad breath, known medically as halitosis.

Causes of Dry Mouth

Dry mouth can arise from a variety of factors, including:

  • aging
  • antihistamines
  • autoimmune diseases, such as lupus or AIDS
  • chemotherapy
  • constantly breathing through your mouth
  • diuretics, including coffee and alcohol
  • medications, such as anti-depressants or blood pressure medications
  • nerve damage
  • problems with your salivary glands
  • radiation therapy
  • tobacco products, such as cigarettes and chewing tobacco.

Because such a variety of factors can cause dry mouth and, therefore, halitosis, identifying the exact cause of your chronic bad breath is key to finding the right treatment for you.

Cures for Dry Mouth

While you can’t control all of the causes of dry mouth and bad breath, you can take measures to avoid some of the factors to prevent dry mouth and halitosis. Some tips for reducing dry mouth include:

  • chewing sugar-free gums to stimulate saliva production
  • drinking more water to prevent dry mouth
  • eating foods that are low in sugar to reduce the growth of oral bacteria
  • limiting your intake of foods that cause bad breath, including onions and garlic
  • quitting your use of tobacco products (Tobacco can not only lead to dry mouth, but it can also stain your teeth, irritate your gums and lead to cancer.)
  • reducing your coffee and alcohol intake to avoid developing dry mouth.

In some cases, the above lifestyle changes may not be sufficient to eliminate your bad breath. For example, if dry mouth and bad breath are symptoms of an underlying disease or medical condition, then your doctor will have to treat the disease itself to help you get rid of your chronic bad breath.

Alternately, if your dry mouth is the result of aging, your dentist or physician can make some suggestions that will help you live with dry mouth more easily.

Preventing Dry Mouth at Night

While having dry mouth at night can be irritating, if dry mouth persists through the night, it will cause bad morning breath. To prevent dry mouth at night, leave a glass or bottle of water next to your bed so that you can swallow a couple of mouthfuls if you wake up during the night. In addition, you might find that using a humidifier in your room prevents your dry mouth and, therefore, eliminates your bad breath.

Discuss any reoccurring dry mouth problems that you have with your dentist or your physician during your regular checkups. In addition, remember to take care of your mouth and teeth by brushing and flossing regularly. If, however, your chronic bad breath is a symptom of a serious disease, consult with your doctor for a proper diagnosis of the underlying condition causing you to suffer from halitosis.

Resources

American Dental Association (n.d.). Bad Breath (Halitosis) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Retrieved December 12, 2007, from the ADA Web site: http://www.ada.org/public/topics/bad_breath_faq.asp.

American Dental Association (n.d.). Bad Breath (Halitosis) Overview. Retrieved December 12, 2007, from the ADA Web site: http://www.ada.org/public/topics/bad_breath.asp.

CBT (n.d.) Bad Breathe Symptoms. Retrieved December 12, 2007, from the Center for Breathe Treatment Web site: http://www.breathcure.com/symptoms.html.

Mother Nature, Inc. (n.d.) Dry Mouth. Retrieved December 12, 2007, from the MotherNature Web site: http://www.mothernature.com/Library/Bookshelf/Books/18/45.cfm.

Nelson Family Dentistry (2007) Bad Breath/Halitosis. Retrieved December 12, 2007, from the Nelsonfamilydentistry Web site: http://www.nelsonfamilydentistry.com/Halitos.html.