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Bad breath? It may not only be from those onions you had at lunch.

Bad Breath: The conversation killer.

Bad Breath

What does bad breath come from?

Well, I’m glad you asked! First off, obviously bad breath, or halitosis, can be a rather touchy subject. Your good friends often won’t let you know you have it, your family…maybe. It’s both a conversation killer, and a conversation starter (you just might not be in the conversation which was started by it). It’s embarrassing. A lot of us have waken up next to our significant other, bid a cheery “good morning” to them, and had that significant other tell you quite directly, “Go brush your teeth.” (or maybe that was just me). The subject is just about as unwelcome as the event.

Bad breath (halitosis), is caused by several different factors:

  • Food. The things you eat, as you might have noticed, affects the breath that comes out when you exhale, like garlic or onions. If proper oral hygiene is omitted it results in food particles being left in the mouth and on the tongue, these food particles collect bacteria, which can cause some pretty bad breath. Infrequent eating can result in bad breath as well.
  • Gum disease. Chronic bad breath, or when you notice a “bad taste in the mouth” can also be a harbinger of periodontal disease. This is caused by plaque. Plaque being a combination of saliva, bacteria, food particles, and the waste created from the bacteria eating the food particles in your mouth (Gross!). That waste from bacteria is quite malodorous. There is also another factor with this one, the bodies own solution to the bacteria creates pus in the gums which is also very malodorous.
  • Dry mouth. This happens because of lack of proper saliva flow in the mouth, which occurs because of a number of reasons. Namely, medications someone is taking, salivary gland problems, or continuously breathing through the mouth. If your body is not creating enough saliva, food particles in, around and on the teeth, cannot be washed away. Dentists can prescribe a type of artificial saliva, or recommend that you chew sugarless gum to help increase saliva flow in the mouth.
  • Use of tobacco or smoking. Aside from the obvious risks on overall health, smoking can not only stain your teeth, but add to bad breath as well. Smoking and tobacco also irritate the gums and can get in the way of properly tasting foods you eat.
  • Medical conditions. Certain types of diseases have some symptoms which are also related to bad breath. Upper respiratory infections, diabetes, and some liver or kidney diseases are some examples.

What can you do about it?

Since poor oral hygiene is a leading cause of bad breath, as it leaves food particles, odor-causing bacteria and waste in the mouth, one thing to do immediately is to schedule an appointment at your local dentist. The plaque that was allowed to remain on the teeth hardens after only about a day or so, into calculus (or tartar), which can only be removed professionally. The dentist will also determine whether or not dry mouth could be a factor and will go over the treatments for that as well.

The dentist may also give you some tips to kick the smoking and use of tobacco habits. Eating that delicious garlic-butter smothered steamed spinach, or that amazing French onion soup is a bit less of the trouble, as the smell from these should only be transient (unless you don’t brush and floss, or saliva flow is, in fact, a problem).

Other than the above, you may also be encouraged to chew sugarless gum to help create saliva in the mouth to wash off particles of food from the teeth and around the gums, or as mentioned above, the doctor can actually recommend and prescribe artificial saliva.

Finishing up.

Persistent bad breath is one of the leading reasons people seek dental care, which is understandable, given it directly effects our interpersonal relations and intimacy. It’s not pleasant (hence the term “bad” in the name). There are remedies though, so, if you do have chronic bad breath, don’t worry, there’s help.

Keep up good oral hygiene habits. Brush twice a day for at least two minutes, floss, clean your tongue (a very large portion of the bacteria in the mouth which cause odor is located on the tongue) and use mouth wash as an added buffer.

As always, comment if you have any questions or…comments.

Stay healthy my friends.

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