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Bad Breath

Causes, cures and its affects on your teeth

The medical term for bad breath is halitosis. Halitosis can result from poor dental hygiene habits and can also be a sign of other health problems. Types of food and other unhealthy lifestyle habits may also be causes of bad breath.

How does what you eat affect your breath? All of the food that is consumed begins to break down in the mouth. As foods begin being digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, where they can be carried to your lungs and in turn affected the breath. Hence why when we ingest foods like onions and garlic, there is literally no way to disquise the odor. Brushing, flossing and mouthwash will merely mask the odors temporarily, but will continue to resurface until the food is fully digested and passed through the body.

Poor oral hygiene habits cause breath because if you don’t brush and floss daily, food particles can remain in your mouth. Which in turn promote bacterial growth between teeth, around the gums and on the tongue. Antibacterial mouth rinses can help to reduce bacteria, but if not treated the bacteria will inevitably cause bad breath. Smoking or chewing tobacco-based products also can cause bad breath, stain teeth, reduce your ability to taste foods, and irritate your gums.

There are numerous health problems that can be associated with bad breath. Frequent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth may be a warning sign of gum disease. Gum disease can be caused by the buildup of plaque on teeth. If gum disease isn’t treated in can over time cause damage to the gums and jawbone. Other causes of bad breath include poor fitting dental appliances, yeast infections of the mouth and cavities.

The medical condition dry mouth (xerostomia) also can cause bad breath. Saliva is a necessity to keep the mouth moistened, neutralize acids produced by plaque and wash away dead cells that accumulate on the tongue, gums and cheeks. If these cells aren’t removed they will decompose and cause bad breath in the mouth. Some of the factors that can cause dry mouth are various medications, salivary gland problems, or continues mouth breathing.

Below is a list of other factors that may cause bad breath:

  • pneumonia
  • bronchitis
  • chronic sinus infections
  • postnasal drip
  • diabetes
  • chronic acid reflux
  • liver or kidney problems

How can you prevent halitosis? Below is a list of simple yet affective ways to prevent bad breath:

  1. Practice good oral hygiene. Brush twice a day with fluoridetoothpaste to remove food debris and plaque. Brush teeth after you eat (keep a toothbrush at work or school to brush after lunch). Don’t forget to brush the tongue, too. Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months or after an illness.
  2. Use floss or an interdental cleaner to remove food particles and plaque between teeth once a day. Dentures should be removed at night and cleaned thoroughly before being placed in your mouth the next morning.
  3. See your dentist regularly — at least twice a year. He or she will conduct an oral exam and professional teeth cleaning and will be able to detect and treat periodontal disease, dry mouth, or other problems that may be the cause of bad mouth odor.
  4. Stop smoking and chewing tobacco-based products. Ask your dentist for tips on kicking the habit.
  5. Drink lots of water. This will keep your mouth moist. Chewing gum (preferably sugarless) or sucking on candy (preferably sugarless) also stimulates the production of saliva, which helps wash away food particles and bacteria. Gums and mints containing xylitol are best.
  6. Keep a log of the foods you eat. If you think they may be causing bad breath, bring the log to your dentist to review. Similarly, make a list of the medications you take. Some drugs may play a role in creating mouth odors.

Who Treats Bad Breath?
In most cases, your dentist can treat the cause of bad breath. If your dentist determines that your mouth is healthy and the odor is not of oral origin, you may be referred to your family doctor or to a specialist to determine the odor source and treatment plan. If the odor is due to gum disease, for example, your dentist can either treat the disease or refer you to a periodontist, a dentist who specializes in treating gum conditions.

What Products Can I Use to Eliminate Bad Breath?
You can buy a number of mouthwashes that claim to eliminate bad breath. However, many of these generally provide only a temporary way to mask unpleasant mouth odor. There are, however, several antiseptic mouth-rinse products that kill the germs that cause bad breath. Ask your dentist about which product is best for you.

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