Bad breath (halitosis) can result from poor dental health habits, and may be a sign of other health problems. It can also be made worse by the types of foods one eats and other unhealthy lifestyle habits. All the food eaten begins to be broken down in the mouth. As foods are digested/ absorbed into the bloodstream, they are eventually carried to the lungs and given off in one’s breath. Brushing, flossing, and even mouthwash only cover up the strong odor and can be temporary. The odor will not go away completely until the foods have passed through the body.
A great place to start is at home by keeping the mouth clean. Bacteria are the most common cause of bad breath. Many people try to kill bacteria with mouthwash; however, this is only a temporary solution. The bacteria will grow back over time. The best defense is to brush the teeth thoroughly at least twice a day for two full minutes, and floss once a day; a Waterpik can also be used daily. This will help remove the food trapped between the teeth, as well as the food trapped in the gum line. It is also important to clean the tongue after brushing. This can be done with a toothbrush or a tongue cleaner. The rough surface of the tongue is a common place for bacteria to remain causing an odor. Rinsing the mouth after eating and drinking with antibacterial mouthwash or even plain water can help reduce odor.
The most important thing to do is visit a dentist for a thorough cleaning and examination. Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth may be warning signs of gum disease. Gum disease is caused by the buildup of plaque on teeth. The bacteria cause toxins to form in the mouth, which irritate the gums. If gum disease continues untreated, it can damage the gums and bone around the teeth. Other dental causes of bad breath include poorly fitting dental appliances, yeast infections of the mouth, and cavities. Dry mouth is a medical condition that can also cause bad breath. Saliva is used to moisten and cleanse the mouth by neutralizing acids produced by plaque and washing away bacteria that accumulate in the mouth. Dry mouth may be caused by the side effects of various medications, salivary gland problems, or continuous breathing through the mouth. There are also many diseases and illnesses that cause bad breath.
A proper treatment plan can be made while visiting the dentist when suffering from bad breath. It is rarely life-threatening and the prognosis is good. If good oral hygiene does not eliminate bad breath, it may be a symptom of a medical disorder; therefore a medical doctor should also be seen. It is important to see your dentist regularly for a healthy lifestyle.
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