Halitosis: Causes and Treatment
Halitosis, otherwise known as bad breath, is a condition experienced by one in four people. It can be a source of anxiety and embarrassment for some, and it is not something anyone wants to wrestle with. Stores overflowing with gum, mint, and breath freshening options promise to alleviate bad breath, but this is often times only offering a temporary solution to what may very well be an underlying health problem.
Certain types of food and drink, medical conditions, and habits are among the many causes of halitosis. In some cases, you can reduce and even eliminate bad breath by practicing good oral hygiene habits at home, but there are difficult and persistent instances of bad breath that need further examination to determine a cause.
Causes of halitosis
While bad breath is experienced in the mouth, it can have several origins. In treating the underlying cause of the issue, it is often reduced or eliminated altogether. Here are some possible causes for your less than fresh mouth, and some things you can do to treat and even prevent it:
1. Certain foods
Breakdown of food particles in and around teeth cause unpleasant odors, especially if they are left there to contribute to decay. Certain foods such as garlic, onions, and spices can cause foul odors as well; if you must consume them, counteract their unpleasant effects by brushing and flossing teeth after eating.
2. Tobacco use
Smoking and using tobacco products cause bad breath–these very unique and persistent odors remain in the mouth, on teeth, and in soft tissues long after use. Smokers and tobacco users are more likely to develop gingivitis, which can contribute to halitosis as well. Doing what you can to cut back on the use of tobacco products is recommended if you want to keep breath fresh and gums healthy.
3. Poor dental hygiene
Failing to clean teeth and gums on a regular basis leads to plaque buildup and eventually, decay. Plaque is a sticky substance that forms on teeth when food particles and other debris are allowed to remain in the mouth for too long. Regular dental checkups and cleanings are essential for cleaning off plaque and restoring teeth to their healthiest state. When cleaning teeth, don’t neglect your tongue; this is a breeding ground for bacteria if not properly cleaned.
4. Dry mouth
Saliva has many benefits; not only does it help cleanse your mouth after eating and drinking, but it can also remove bacteria that can contribute to bad breath. The best way to combat dry mouth is by staying well hydrated throughout the day. Staying well-hydrated will help you to produce the proper amount of saliva needed to keep your mouth healthy.
Some medications can contribute to dry mouth, and others can break down in the body and release foul odors as the body metabolizes them. Being aware of this is the first step to managing your breath while taking these medications; move them through your system efficiently by drinking enough water, and continue to practice good oral hygiene habits to reduce symptoms of bad breath.
6. Infections of the mouth
Advanced stages of gum disease and decay can also contribute to halitosis. Abscessed teeth and infected gums increase the number of bacteria circulating in your mouth, which exacerbates the issue even further. Doing what you can to stay proactive when caring for your teeth is the best assurance that bad breath will not become a chronic issue for you.
7. Diseases in the body
At times, halitosis is an indicator that something is wrong elsewhere in the body; metabolic disorders have a unique odor that is present in the mouth when they manifest. Other diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and chronic reflux can manifest as less than fresh breath, yet it is an indicator that health must be addressed; in taking care of the root cause of any disease, it is likely that you’ll reduce symptoms of bad breath.
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