The Dentist Is In: Why do I have bad breath? - The Doctor Is In - Explorer

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The Dentist Is In: Why do I have bad breath?

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Few conditions are more embarrassing than halitosis, or bad breath odor. Nearly every person suffers from bad breath from time to time, and some people are unaware that they have halitosis. 

The most common cause of bad breath is poor oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing daily can help eliminate many of the odors in the mouth. Foods, such as garlic and onions, can leave a residue, and particles in the mouth that chewing gum and mouthwash will only mask. Good brushing and flossing can eliminate any remnants of food that would otherwise remain between and on the teeth, causing odor.  An offensive odor may also be the result of periodontal disease (gum disease), or cavities in the mouth. 

Another cause of bad breath is decreased saliva. Saliva helps clean out all the bad bacteria in the mouth and thus reduces bad breath. In the mornings, the decreased saliva gives way for the bacteria to grow and hence causes bad breath. When we eat, we chew food that gives good saliva in the mouth, but if you are not eating or are dieting, the saliva also decreases in the mouth, which can cause bad breath. Certain medications can also decrease saliva flow, causing bad breath.  

If you suffer from dry mouth, your dentist may prescribe an artificial saliva, or suggest using sugarless candy and increasing your fluid intake.

In some cases, though, bad breath is a symptom of disease or infection. These medical disorders can be chronic sinusitis, local infection in the respiratory tract, postnasal drip, diabetes, chronic bronchitis, liver or kidney ailment, and gastrointestinal disturbance. If your dentist confirms that your mouth is healthy, he or she can refer you to a physician to determine the cause of your bad breath.

To avoid bad breath, there are certain things we need to remember to do the following - 

Gargle water after eating anything.

Brush teeth at least twice a day, in the morning and before sleeping.

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and foods that are also low in fat.

Eat at regular intervals and do not skip meals or diet irregularly.

Clean dentures or braces at least once a day or as directed by your dentist.

Maintain regular dental checkups.

Eating certain foods, smoking, decreased salivary flow, dental cavities, periodontal disease, and certain health problems all contribute to halitosis.  Good oral health is essential in eliminating bad breath. Regular cleanings and dental check-ups; brushing and flossing remove debris and plaque will help to eliminate bad breath. If you’re concerned about bad breath, see your dentist. He or she can help identify the cause and, if it’s due to an oral condition, develop a treatment plan to help eliminate it.

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