Bad breath or halitosis is a common ailment; an embarrassing condition which mainly affects our social and interpersonal relationships rather than our health. Some people who suffer from it are not even aware of it.
According to dental professionals, a number of factors contribute towards halitosis:
* Certain foods such as onions and garlic can cause bad breath. Their odor is exhaled by the lungs once the food enters into the bloodstream. Halitosis due to eating these food types are however temporary. Infrequent eating, such as when someone is on a diet, can lead to bad breath as well.
* Halitosis occurs mainly due to the food particles that remain in your mouth, providing perfect breeding grounds for odor-causing bacteria. When teeth are not brushed and flossed daily, food collects between the teeth, around the gums and on the tongue, giving out an unpleasant odor.
* Dry mouth or xerostomia can also contribute to bad breath. Dry mouth is caused by a decrease in saliva production. When there is less saliva, it hampers the mouth’s ability to naturally rid itself of bacteria. Dry mouth can be caused by breathing through the mouth, frequent alcohol consumption and salivary gland disorders. It can also be a side effect of taking certain medications.
* Using tobacco products can lead to halitosis.
* Certain medical conditions such as infections in the respiratory tract, chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip, diabetes, chronic bronchitis, gastrointestinal disturbance, liver or kidney ailments could be causing your bad breath. If your mouth is healthy, but you are still suffering from bad breath, your dentist may refer you to a doctor.
* Improper cleaning and maintenance of dentures can also cause halitosis.
Getting rid of bad breath
Most people can get rid of their bad breath with a few simple measures. Here are some steps recommended by the American Dental Association:
* Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and rinse with antiseptic to make sure that no food particles are left in the mouth after eating.
* Floss or use an interdental cleaner to clean between teeth once a day.
* Brush your tongue as well as your teeth to get rid of odor causing bacteria.
Dental professionals also offer the following additional tips:
* Have your mouth checked by a dentist for any faults in dentures or fillings which can trap food particles in the mouth.
* For dry mouth, chew a gum or sugarless lozenges to improve saliva flow. Drink plenty of water and fluids. Avoid using a mouthwash with alcohol content as they dry the mouth.
* Minimize intake of food rich in garlic and onion.
* Avoid drinking too much coffee and smoking cigarettes or tobacco.
* You can use peppermint on the tongue to freshen your breath as well as tea tree oil that helps kill the bacteria in the mouth.
Persistent and severe bad breath should not be ignored. Consult a dental professional to determine causes and possible solutions to prevent halitosis from taking over your life.