Phone: 910-778-8485 fax: 910-778-8477

2980 Ray Road Spring Lake NC 28390 Near Overhills Schools

Vincent Vissichelli, DMD

Board Certified Pediatric Dentist

Specializing in the treatment of infants, children, teens and special needs patients.

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Bad Breath (Halitosis) – What causes it?

Bad breath, or halitosis, can be a symptom of various conditions including: postnasal drip, dry mouth, dental problems, and sinusitis. Halitosis in children is often due to the decomposition of mucus secretions and debris which accumulate on the tongue, in the nose, and between the teeth.

Halitosis is an offensive odor which comes from the mouth, nose, or airway. It is also defined as exhaled air containing more than 75 parts per billion of odor-producing volatile sulfur compounds.
· Halitosis can be caused by oral sources, non-oral sources, and psychological problems.
· The source of halitosis is the oral cavity in up to 85% of affected individuals. The most common odor-causing sites in the mouth are: the (dorsum) top the tongue, the area between the teeth, and under the gum line.
· The coating on the tongue usually consists of shed surface cells of the tongue, blood cells, and bacteria. It is possible for more than 100 bacteria to attach to just one oral of these cells. The worst oral odor occurs when many shed oral epithelial cells are trapped in the plaque and crevices on the dorsum of the tongue.
· Halitosis results from the action of specific bacteria on oral debris and dental plaque. Sulfur-containing substrates are eagerly devoured by these bacteria. The bacterial breakdown of methionine and cysteine molecules yields hydrogen sulfide and methylmercaptan – both of which produce bad breath. These volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) have a “rotten egg” smell.
· The oral conditions which predispose to the production of bad breath are:
a decrease in the flow of saliva, stagnation of saliva, bacteria, an increase  protein in the diet, a decrease of carbohydrate in the diet, a rise in the oral pH to a more alkaline environment, and an increase in the number of dead  oral epithelial cells in the mouth.


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