The Compassionate Blog


Bad breath is often seen as a trait of obnoxious characters in TV sit-coms. As a dentist, you know better than that. Chronic halitosis can indicate deeper, critical issues that need professional attention. And, as a dentist, you are in the perfect position to deal with this infamous problem.

The main cause of common chronic halitosis is poor dental hygiene. This is a topic that, as a dentist, you can comfortably address with patients. You can tactfully point out the need for more flossing or better brushing techniques.

Also, you are the first line of defense against another big cause of bad breath: gum disease. You are responsible for referring your clients to a periodontist, if necessary.


You may also find yourself in a position where a client needs to consult a doctor. Diabetes, acid reflux and even cancer can cause a patient to have significantly bad breath. This is also why you should talk to clients about any oral odor they might have.

This conversation, though, can be awkward. If you’ve examined a client and found no dental problems or gum issues that could cause halitosis, you need to have a serious talk. One of the ways you can more comfortably approach the topic is to mention that breath is an indicator of internal health. By giving a client an ‘out,’ that is, by pointing out that bad breath is not a character flaw or personal hygiene problem, you are allowing your clients to retain their dignity. They are more likely to be honest when they don’t feel judged or criticized because they can’t keep their breath perfectly sweet.

Many patients will go out of their way to cover up the scent with mouthwash before they climb into your chair. You may not notice the malodor, but you still might see signs, like that strong minty scent or excessive tongue brushing. Take a breath. Bad breath is a symptom. You are the health professional. It is your duty to address an issue that could be as simple as flossing or as serious as cancer.