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Bad Breath – Halitosis


Halitosis, or bad breath, is a very common problem that is rarely talked about due to embarrassment. In fact, other than tooth decay and periodontal disease, it’s the top third reason why people seek dental care.

Halitosis can have a huge impact personally and socially on a person. Halitophobia is a huge dental phobia that affects numerous people. Bad breath can be caused by various things, ranging from eating garlic to having a major health condition like diabetes. What is more embarrassing is the fact that most people can not detect they have halitosis.

Our oral cavities are connected to our noses by an opening that lies in the back of our mouth (a region known as the soft palate). Almost as a rule, the nose filters out and ignores background odors, including our own breath. Our body becomes immune to our own scents and odors, making it difficult to detect things like bad breath. One example is when we have a bowel movement. Most people can not tell, or are not disgusted by the scent of their own feces, yet can not stand to be around another individual’s scent. This is due to the process mentioned above.

What Causes Bad Breath?

There can be numerous different reasons why someone suffers from bad breath. Bad breath can be temporary or it can last until treatment is sought. The number one reason why bad breath happens is due to the bacteria-filled whitish coating that covers the surface of the posterior portion (the back) of the tongue. While you brush your teeth, you should always brush this region of your tongue to rid the mouth of bad breath. Other things that cause bad breath include:

  • Foods and beverages
  • Oral bacteria
  • Dental conditions and diseases
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Neglecting the tongue while brushing
  • Smoking
  • Drug abuse
  • Medical conditions and diseases
  • Sinus conditions
  • Dental corrective appliances (dentures, bridges, crowns)
  • Medications you may be taking

Bad Breath Treatment

Treating bad breath can be as easy as beginning a proper oral hygiene routine each day. Brushing, flossing and rinsing with a mouthwash, coupled with brushing your tongue and staying away from sugary, carbonated drinks can prevent oral problems such as bad breath and periodontal disease. If you are experiencing bad breath, talk with your dentist about it. The bad breath may be a symptom of another problem, instead of the problem. It may not be due to poor oral hygiene, and could be due to another problem such as dry mouth syndrome or diabetes. You should also keep your dentist informed about medications you may be taking. Some medications can cause dry mouth, which leads to bad breath. Bad breath is usually a problem that can be solved with good oral hygiene, regular visits to the dentist, and/or an awareness to a much bigger problem.

Preventing Bad Breath

Preventing bad breath can be as easy as eliminating the cause of the bad breath. If you have halitosis because you do not brush your tongue, start brushing your tongue. If you have halitosis because you love eating onions and garlic, choose wisely when to eat those foods. You can also purchase chewing gum, mints or hard candies to have handy after you eat. These items (if sugar-free) can act as a cleaning aid if you can not reach a toothbrush. The best way to prevent bad breath is by visiting your dentist regularly and practicing good oral hygiene.

Page updated February 2011



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