Bad breath is also known by the clinical name of halitosis and it regularly afflicts about one in four people. Something things to know about bad breath/halitosis: it doesn’t discriminate among the young, the old or the in-between nor does it discriminate between sexes. Halitosis is a problem for women and men alike. You can check yourself for halitosis by licking your wrist and sniffing. If you’re especially brave you might ask a trusted friend or significant other if your breath honestly stinks. Halitosis can be more than just an embarrassment. It can be a warning sign of a grave dental disease such as periodontal (gum) disease.
What Causes Halitosis
There are many causes of this common problem. Persistent bad breath is usually caused by the foul gases released by the bacteria that coat your teeth, gums, and tongue. Also, the small chunks of food that get caught between the teeth and on the tongue will rot and can sometimes cause an unpleasant smell. Strong foods like garlic, coffee, and onions can add to the problem. Plaque build-up can also cause halitosis. Plaque is really the bacteria that coat our teeth and gums and it will cause worse things than just bad breath. It can cause cavities and gum disease. Another cause of bad breath/halitosis is “dry mouth”. This is a condition is caused by the build-up of bacteria in your mouth because your mouth isn’t producing sufficient saliva leading to halitosis.
Some medicines may contribute to the “dry mouth” condition. Dry mouth may also be caused by continually breathing through your mouth instead of your nose. This condition, which leads to not producing saliva, is more common among older people and may lead to further problems as well. If this is you, you are well advised to seek professional medical advice. A prime cause of halitosis is, not surprisingly, smoking. However, the diseases associated with smoking are far more critical than halitosis. Alcoholic beverages are a common cause of bad breath, too. And then, there are some more serious physical conditions which could cause bad breath such as acid reflux, diabetes, liver, and kidney problems-just to name a few. A thorough medical exam may diagnose such situations.
Preventing Bad Breath
Watch what you eat. What you eat affects what you exhale and is a prime cause of bad breath. That's because as food is digested, it's absorbed into your bloodstream and then is expelled from your lungs through your mouth when you breathe. The result: halitosis otherwise known as bad breath. Avoid breath busters such as garlic, onions, and some other spicy foods. But often, just improving your oral hygiene is usually enough to cure bad breath and stop it happening again. To do this, make sure you:
- floss between your teeth daily
- brush your teeth and gums regularly
- clean your tongue regularly
- use a mouth wash. But be choosy as some have an undesirable smell of their own
- cut back on alcohol and don’t use tobacco products