DALLAS — Dealing with bad breath lately?

The problem may not be your breath, but your sinuses. A sudden bout of halitosis is a common symptom of a sinus infection.

Dentists at Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry say sinusitis increases the creation of mucus and causes the bacteria already present in the mouth to flourish.

A patient who usually has fresh breath, practices proper oral hygiene such as brushing and flossing, and also regularly visits her or his dentist will do well to take care of the sinus infection quickly.

HSC-BCD doctors recommend a visit to your physician to get the infection under control, but warn that although a prescription medication may eliminate the infection it may not immediately remedy the problem with your breath.

“Bad breath can also be caused by dry mouth, which occurs when the flow of saliva decreases,” says Dr. Charles W. Wakefield, professor and director of the advanced education in general dentistry residency program at HSC-BCD. “Saliva is necessary to cleanse the mouth, fight germs and remove particles that may cause odor. Some medications can cause dry mouth.”

While treating the infection, Wakefield recommends using thorough oral hygiene practices, including brushing, flossing and use of an antimicrobial rinse to help keep the mouth from being dry. He says brush the tongue vigorously, as it holds many bacteria. Tongue brushing will help minimize the chance of bad breath. In addition, using mints or gum sweetened by xylitol helps with this problem.

— LaDawn Brock