Bad Breath (halitosis)

An estimated sixty-five percent of Americans have bad breath. Over forty-million Americans have "chronic halitosis," which is persistent bad breath. Ninety percent of all halitosis is of oral, not systemic, origin.

Americans spend more than $1 billion a year on over the counter halitosis products, many of which are ineffective because they only mask the problem.

What causes bad breath?

Bad breath is caused by a variety of factors. In most cases, it is caused by food remaining in the mouth - on the teeth, tongue, gums, and other structures, collecting bacteria. Dead and dying bacterial cells release a sulfur compound that gives your breath an unpleasant odor. Certain foods, such as garlic and onions, contribute to breath odor. Once the food is absorbed into the bloodstream, it is transferred to the lungs, where it is exhaled. Brushing, flossing and mouthwash only mask the odor. Dieters sometimes develop unpleasant breath from fasting.

Periodontal (gum) disease often causes persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth, and persistent bad breath may mean a sign that you have gum disease.

Gum disease is caused by plaque - the sticky, often colorless, film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth. Dry mouth or xerostomia may also cause bad breath due to decreased salivary flow. Saliva cleans your mouth and removes particles that may cause odor. Tobacco products cause bad breath, stain teeth, reduce your ability to taste foods and irritate your gum tissues. Bad breath may also be a sign that you have a serious health problem, such as a respiratory tract infection, chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, liver or kidney ailment.

Here are characteristic bad breath odors associated with some of these illnesses:

  • Diabetes - acetone, fruity

  • Liver failure - sweetish, musty

  • Acute rheumatic fever - acid, sweet

  • Lung abscess - foul, putrefactive

  • Blood dyscrasias - resembling decomposed blood

  • Liver cirrhosis - resembling decayed blood

  • Uremia - ammonia or urine

  • Hand-Schuller-Christian disease - fetid breath and unpleasant taste

  • Scurvy - foul breath from stomach inflammation

  • Wegner`s granulomatosis - Necrotic, putrefactive

  • Kidney failure - ammonia or urine

  • Diphtheria, dysentery, measles, pneumonia, scarlet fever, tuberculosis - extremely foul, fetid odor

  • Syphilis - fetid

Bad breath may also be caused by medications you are taking, including central nervous system agents, anti-Parkinson drugs, antihistamines/decongestants, anti-psychotics, anti-cholinergics, narcotics, anti-hypertensives, and anti-depressants.

Caring for bad breath

Daily brushing and flossing, and regular professional cleanings, will normally take care of unpleasant breath. And don't forget your often overlooked tongue as a culprit for bad breath. Bacterial plaque and food debris also can accumulate on the back of the tongue. The tongue's surface is extremely rough and bacteria can accumulate easily in the cracks and crevices.

Controlling periodontal disease and maintaining good oral health helps to reduce bad breath.  If you have constant bad breath, make a list of the foods you eat and any medications you take. Some medications may contribute to bad breath.

Improperly cleaned dentures can also harbor odor-causing bacteria and food particles. If you wear removable dentures, take them out at night and clean them thoroughly before replacing them.

If your dentist determines that your mouth is healthy and that the odor is not oral in nature, you may be referred to your family physician or to a specialist to determine the cause of the odor and possible treatment. If the odor is due to gum disease, your dentist can either treat the disease or refer you to a periodontist, a specialist in treating gum tissues. Gum disease can cause gum tissues to pull away from the teeth and form pockets. When these pockets are deep, only a professional periodontal cleaning can remove the bacteria and plaque that accumulate.

Mouthwashes are generally ineffective on bad breath. If your bad breath persists even after good oral hygiene, there are special products your dentist may prescribe, including Zytex, which is a combination of zinc chloride, thymol and eucalyptus oil that neutralizes the sulfur compounds and kills the bacteria that causes them. In addition, a special antimicrobial mouth rinse may be prescribed. An example is chlorhexidine, but be careful not to use it for more than a few months as it can stain your teeth. Some antiseptic mouth rinses have been accepted by the American Dental Association for their breath freshening properties and therapeutic benefits in reducing plaque and gingivitis. Instead of simply masking breath odor, these products have been demonstrated to kill the germs that cause bad breath. Ask your dentist about trying some of these products.

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Monday:

7:30 am-2:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:00 am-8:00 pm

Wednesday:

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Thursday:

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Patient Reviews

  • "Pleasant and professional.
    Dr Shukla and staff provide excellent dental and dental hygiene services. Have been coming to this office for over 25 years. Recommended to all."
    Keith K.
  • "Excellent dentist.
    I had a great experience at Great Smiles, my tooth was filled with no problems and the staff is wonderful."
    Linda F.
  • "Everyone in Dr. Sukla’s office received me with cheerful and friendly attitude. Though it was my first visit, I felt very much at home with her great staff. Dr. Sukla had also talked to me with politeness and did a very good job in attending to my dental requirements."
    S K.
  • "Gentle lady! Friendly and knowlegeable! A fun visit -- you can believe me."
    Florence D.
  • "Dr Shukla, Donna, Diane, Joy and Priscilla are terrific. Professional, knowledgeable, thorough, clean, on time, and very friendly. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m actually at the dentist. There can’t be a better dental office anywhere."
    Jim F.
  • "Super friendly staff & very professional.
    Everyone in the office is so nice and friendly and accommodating...Dr is soooo sweet and very professional...highly recommend this place to anyone looking for a great dentist!!! And great customer service and professionalism!!"
    Marcie M.
  • "Always good.
    Dr. Shukla’s staff always provide warm, caring & professional service!"
    Keith P.
  • "Great experience.
    Very grateful a appointment was arranged immediately as I was in pain, even though I was a new patient. The office and appointment rooms clean and comfortable. I was very impressed with the kind professional attention given and how Quickly my problem was addressed. Great experience! I have been searching for a good dentist in the area and am happy to have found one."
    Shirley W.
  • "High quality, professional dental care.
    Doctor Shukla is a great, highly skilled and very thorough dentist. A few months ago Dr Shukla placed a new crown on a tooth (recommended by Dr Swingle) , which went extremely well. Also it is always a pleasure to have the teeth cleaned by Donna, a very professional and friendly dental hygienist."
    Elizabeth S.
  • "High quality of service, professional.
    Dr Shukla provided excellent service and comfort during the procedure."
    Gary F.
  • "High quality service.
    Dr Shukla and staff are very friendly and personable. I’ve had several tooth emergencies and Dr Shukla and staff have helped me out even on their off days. Dr Shukla is very focused on patient satisfaction. I would definitely recommend Great Smiles to anyone in need of a dentist."
    Aurea M.
  • "Professional and friendly.
    Dr Shukla and her team are very caring and accommodating. I actually look forward to my dental appointments!"
    Peter G.
  • "Dental Work.
    Doctor is very patient and caring. I would highly recommend!"
    Donna W.
  • "Always high quality care.
    I have gone to this practice for years and have come to know the staff well. They are all great! Dr. Shukla provides excellent examinations and kind, careful treatment. Donna is a wonderful hygienist; not only does she do expert teeth cleaning, but she answers all questions thoroughly. She clearly takes pride in her profession and is up to date on current standards of care. I highly recommend 'Great Smiles.'"
    Julie D.
  • "Great service by wonderful people.
    The entire staff are welcoming and thoughtful. Dr Shutla is a great dentist who I highly recommend."
    Russ G.
  • "Dental work? No big deal.
    Dr. Shukla & her staff are always friendly, helpful, calming & efficient, making dental visits easy & stress-free."
    Pat G.
  • "Very professional. Dr. AND STAFF are excellent."
    Patti S.
  • "Excellent dentist and staff
    Our family has been going to this office for at least 25 years. The staff there are more than wonderful. When Dr. Swingle retired we were hoping the new dentist would be good so we could continue our relationships there. Well, we are delighted with Dr. Shukla’s care! Always thorough, gentle, very competent and just personally lovely. Office immaculately clean too. Some nice added amenities like beverages and TVs which frankly are pleasant but not necessary when the professional services (from cleanings to crowns) are first rate!"
    Liz F.
  • "Great group!
    Very friendly, efficient and professional!"
    Stan K K.
  • "Very professional and friendly.
    Dr. Shukla and her staff provide a very professional and relaxed atmosphere. I find everyone to be extremely accommodating and friendly."
    John B.
  • "Professional and friendly... It's like visiting family!
    Always enjoy seeing the folks at Great Smiles... Always on top of things, efficient and effective!!!"
    Peter G.
  • "High Quality Service.
    Awesome office....Very Professional staff... Dentist and staff intently listens to your concerns... Very happy!!"
    Laura D.
  • "Crown prep.
    Dr . Shukla is an excellent doctor . Very caring and gentle during the procedure for my crown ....dental hygienist Priscilla was very good and easy to work with ."
    Bob F.
  • "I love the warm and caring personality of Dr Shukla. This warmth is carried over to her staff who are both professional and caring."
    Florence D.
  • "I love the warm and caring personality of Dr Shukla. This warmth is carried over to her staff who are both professional and caring."
    Florence D.
  • "Professional and friendly"
    Karen F.
  • "Always a pleasure."
    Teri B.
  • "Always great care, timely, efficient and very kind staff"
    Richard S.
  • "High quality service.
    Wonderful and efficient staff!"
    L P.
  • "I just went for my 6 month cleaning and checkup . It’s always a great experience ( the best you could have at a dentist!!) the whole office staff are so friendly and yet professional. Dr. Shukla is very thorough, gentle , professional and nice !! Couldn’t be better :) I highly recommend them!"
    Joanne C.
  • "Professional & friendly service.
    When you open the door to Great Smiles you are greeted with a smile. The staff does everything to make you feel relaxed and at ease. Very professional on all fronts and answer questions with just the right amount of information. I would definitely recommend Great Smiles."
    Trisha Y.
  • "The best.
    Great attention. Always on time. You will feel so confident!"
    Gloria L.
  • "High quality dentistry.
    Great smiles dental has high quality service with a team that makes you feel at home. They always explain what they are doing or going to do helping to keep you informed about your teeth and mouth."
    Mickey C.
  • "High quality very professional friendly service.
    Dr Shukla is a exceptional dentist and her entire staff and office are all 5 stars ⭐️ I absolutely have and will continue to recommend Dr Shukla."
    Shirley W.
  • "Very friendly and professional staff.
    Been going here for over 20 years.... Always great service and always on schedule with minimal wait times... All staff is super friendly and professional... HIGHLY recommend for anyone looking for a dentist in the Westfield area!"
    Marcie M.
  • "Because you should want to go to your dentist
    Another good visit to Dr Shukla at Great Smiles. Always a pleasure checking in to the office and the waiting room is now equipped with cold drinks and Nespresso coffee maker, although I actually didn't have to wait. Came in for teeth cleaning with Donna, followed by a dental exam. Dr Shukla is thorough, gentle and caring, clearly taking a long-term view toward maintaining heathy teeth and gums. Many thanks, see you in six months!"
    Malcolm W.
  • "Dr. Shukla is the best!!!
    I have been a patient of Dr. Shukla for several years. I called the office with a dental issue this afternoon and saw her within an hour. Dr. Shukla is empathetic and reassuring, and she always takes the time to answer any questions you may have. I am very happy with this dental practice and highly recommend Dr. Shukla!"
    Jackie B.
  • "Dr. Shukla and all support staff at Great Smiles are highly competent, caring and efficient! My family of 6 has been receiving wonderful dental care from them for years."
    Lucy R.
  • "Careful, thorough, and proficient.
    Dr. Shukla has a calm and pleasant demeanor. She is careful, thorough and proficient in her dental work. All of her staff are experienced, friendly, and very professional."
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  • "Great experience.
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  • "Wonderful dentist and staff !
    Everyone at Great Smiles are professional, friendly and a pleasure to deal with. I actually, kind of, look forward to going. I highly recommend Dr. Shukla and her entire staff."
    Russ G.