As a practicing general dentist for over 33 years and also as a doctor who specializes in the treatment of chronic halitosis I have found that many people with gum disease can also suffer from halitosis. The odor is fairly distinct and easy to identify if you are familiar with gum disease. The reason for this connection is that the vast majority of the bacteria that are responsible for gum disease are the very same ones we find responsible for causing halitosis. These bacteria are referred to as gram (-) anaerobic bacteria and can only be found in areas where there is little to no oxygen. Aerobic bacteria, on the other hand, must have an oxygenated environment in order to survive. Those areas under the gum tissue and deep within the taste buds provide an ideal environment for the gram (-) anaerobic bacteria to thrive due to the lack of oxygen. The diagnosis of gum disease is done using a combination of methods but the most common method used is to measure the depth of the gum pockets that surround each tooth. Measurements that are in the 1-3 mm range are considered healthy and 4 mm pocket is a sign of pending problems and probable gingivitis. Once the measurements exceed 4 mm it is often an indication of more serious problems and a condition referred to as periodontal disease. Once the measurements reach 5 mm or more it is often a sign of bone loss taking place and is also indicative of increased bacterial activity that is taking place under the gum tissue. Sometimes people may complain of a bad odor on their dental floss after flossing certain teeth. This is often a real indication there may be some gum problems in those areas. These bacteria will produce volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), and are the same compounds that are metabolically produced by many gram (-) anaerobic bacteria that are responsible for halitosis. They are the same odors found on the breath of someone suffering from halitosis. Does this mean that if you have two or three teeth with deep pockets you will be producing an offensive breath odor? Absolutely not, but if the number of teeth with deep pockets becomes more numerous or the pockets get deeper then this more severe type of gum condition certainly can lead to an accompanying bad breath condition. Many of the products we use in our home treatment programs and in the clinic have the dual benefit of helping to eliminate a halitosis condition and to help in the treatment of gum disease. A very effective device we use and recommend at the Center for Breath Treatment for the treatment of halitosis and gum disease is a device called a Hydro Floss Oral Irrigator. This device plays an integral role in the prevention and treatment of both halitosis and periodontal disease. Of course twice a day flossing and brushing is paramount to good oral health and in preventing bad breath.
About the author: Dr. Anthony Dailley is a practicing dentist that specializes in halitosis treatment. He has been practicing since 1981 and graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in Cell & Molecular Biology, and obtained his dental degree from the Pacific School of Dentistry. Dr. Dailley founded the Center for Breath Treatment in the San Francisco Bay Area and conducts research on curing halitosis. Dr. Dailley has also been a founder in a biotech company called NovaBay Pharmaceuticals and on their board of directors from 1997 -2014.