Say Bye-Bye to Bad Breath

Have you ever had a conversation with someone whose breath smelled so bad, you could not wait to get away? For those that suffer from bad breath, or halitosis, the main cause is a buildup of bacteria living in the mouth, particularly on the back of the tongue. Your mouth, being warm and moist, is an ideal environment for these bacteria to grow.

While some types of bad breath, such as "morning mouth," are of no cause for concern, others may be the result of a larger problem:

  • Poor dental hygiene - Infrequent or improper brushing and flossing can leave food particles in the mouth, which begin to decay.
  • Infections in the mouth - Periodontal, or gum disease
  • Respiratory tract infections - Throat, sinus, or lung infections
  • External agents - Garlic, onions, coffee, cigarette smoking, chewing tobacco
  • Dry mouth - Also known as xerostomia, this can be caused by salivary gland problems, medications or by "mouth breathing."
  • Systemic illness - Diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, lung disease, sinus disease, reflux disease and others
  • Psychiatric illness - Some people may perceive that they have bad breath, but it is not noticed by others, even oral-health-care professionals. This is referred to as "pseudohalitosis."
A person may have bad breath without even knowing it. This is a phenomenon caused by odor-detecting cells in the nose eventually becoming accustomed to the constant flow of bad smells. If you notice others recoiling as you speak to them, it may be a sign of halitosis. Here are some other symptoms:
  • Poor dental hygiene - Teeth are coated with film or plaque, food debris trapped between teeth, pale or swollen gums
  • Infections in the mouth - Gums may be red, swollen and bleed easily, especially after brushing or flossing; pus may drain from between teeth; a pocket of pus (abcess) at the base of a tooth; loose teeth or a change in a denture's fit; painful, open sores on the tongue or gums
  • Respiratory tract infections - Sore throat, swollen lymph nodes ("swollen glands") in the neck, fever, stuffy nose, a greenish or yellowish nasal discharge, a mucus-producing cough
  • External agents - Cigarette stains on fingers and teeth, a uniform yellow stain on teeth
  • Dry mouth - Difficult swallowing dry foods, difficulty speaking for a prolonged period because of mouth dryness, a burning sensation in the mouth, an unusually high number of dental caries, dry eyes
  • Systemic illnesses - Symptoms of diabetes, lung disease, kidney failure or liver disease

Bad breath caused by dental problems is easily preventable - performing daily maintenance such as brushing teeth, tongue and gums after meals, as well as flossing and rinsing with mouthwashes approved by the American Dental Association. It may also be combatted by drinking plenty of water every day.

Treatment depends on the cause for halitosis, but if you find that you are experiencing bad breath that won't go away, along with painful or swollen gums, a fever, or any other associated symptoms, you should call your dentist immediately.




Courtesy of Colgate


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