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Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Are you constantly chewing gum, popping in breath mints, or using mouth rinse often? Are you self-conscious or embarrassed of your bad breath? You may be one of the 80 million people that suffer from halitosis, or bad breath.

We all have millions of bacteria that live in the mouth, especially on the back of the tongue. In most cases, the bad breath originates from the gums and tongue. The odor is caused by wastes from bacteria in the mouth, the decay of food particles, other debris in your mouth and poor oral hygiene. The decay and debris produce a sulfur compound that causes the unpleasant odor1.

Causes of Halitosis2:

Poor dental hygiene: Infrequent or improper brushing and flossing, allow bits of food to be stuck between the teeth to decay inside the mouth.

Infections in the mouth, which can be caused by a cavity in a tooth, by gum disease, or by an abscess (pus). Loose dentures can also cause fungal infection.

Respiratory tract infection, which can be throat, sinus or lung infections causing a sore throat, fever, stuffy nose or a cough with mucus.

External source: Garlic, onions, certain spices, coffee, cigarette smoking, chewing tobacco and others.

Onions are absorbed by the stomach and the odor is then excreted through the lungs.

Coffee can be detected on a person’s breath for up to 72 hours after digestion.

Dry mouth (xerostomia), which can be due to salivary gland problems, Sjogren’s syndrome, cancer treatment, certain medications or “mouth breathing”. You may also experience burning in the mouth.

Saliva is key in washing away debris and masking sulfur compound that causes the bad odor.

Illnesses, such as diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, lung disease, sinus disease, reflux disease and others.

A “fruity” breath may be a sign of uncontrolled diabetes

A urine-like smell can sometimes indicate kidney failure

Prevention and Treatment3

Brush twice a day and floss to get rid of plaque and food debris. Plaque is a soft, sticky film that builds up on your teeth that contain millions of bacteria. Mechanical removal of plaque via brushing and flossing is the best way to reduce bacteria in the mouth.

Take care of your tongue. When you stick out your tongue, you will see a white or brown coating on the back of the tongue. Use a tongue scraper or your toothbrush to gently clear them out.

Using OTC mouthwash can help temporarily to mask bad breath.

Clean removable appliance. If you wear dentures, retainers or a nightguard take them out and clean thoroughly before using them again.

To get more saliva moving in your mouth, try eating crunchy health foods such as carrots or apples. Sugar-free gum or candy also help to stimulate salivary flow. Also drink plenty of water.

Quit smoking. Not only will you have better breath, you will have a better quality of life.

Visit your dentist regularly. Allow your dentist to detect any problems such as gum disease, abscess, cavities or dry mouth early and stop them before they become more serious. If your dentist believes that the problem is due to an internal/systemic source, you may referred to your family physician.

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