According to the American Dental Association that cites a study by the Council of Scientific Affairs, approximately 50 percent of Americans suffer from bad breath, also known as halitosis.
Halitosis can be caused by the foods that we eat, an unhealthy lifestyle, or it could symptomatic of a serious health problem.
Foods with strong odors, like garlic or onions, can contribute to bad breath. All the food you eat goes through the digestion process which first begins in the mouth. As the food is digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, it is carried to the lungs which release it through your breath. The odor from strong foods does not go away until the foods have completely passed through the body. Brushing, flossing, and even mouthwash will temporarily cover up the smell, but it will linger until the food is eliminated from your bloodstream.
Poor dental hygiene habits can also be the underlining cause for halitosis. Lack of brushing and flossing leaves food particles on and in between teeth. This debris in the mouth promotes bacterial growth between the teeth, around the gums, and on the tongue. This bacteria can cause bad breath and other dental health issues.
Denture wearers can also suffer from bad breath, if their dentures are not cleaned properly and often.
Unhealthy habits, such as smoking or chewing tobacco, can cause bad breath and stain the teeth.
Bad breath could be a warning sign of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is caused by plaque build-up on the teeth. The bacteria that builds up form toxins in the mouth, which irritate the gums. If left untreated, periodontal disease can cause damage to the gums and jawbone.
The medical condition, dry mouth, can also lead to bad breath. Dry mouth is a common side effect from medications, such as antihistamines. Dry mouth can also be caused by salivary gland problems or by mouth breathing. Saliva is necessary to cleanse and moisten the mouth. Saliva neutralizes acids produced by plaque and it also washes away dead cells that accumulate in the mouth. Without saliva production, these cells decompose and cause bad breath.
Other health issues, such as respiratory tract infections, sinus infections, post-nasal drip, diabetes, chronic acid reflux, and liver or kidney problems may also cause bad breath.
To minimize or prevent bad breath try these tips:
Practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth and tongue twice a day, and floss at least once a day to remove particles between the teeth.
Schedule regular dental visits. At least twice a year, a professional teeth cleaning and oral examination is recommended. A dentist will be able to detect and treat any potential problems that may cause bad breath.
Don’t smoke or chew tobacco. A dentist or healthcare provider can provide tips for kicking the habit.
Drink a lot of water. Water keeps you mouth moist and will help wash away food particles and bacteria.
If bad breath is a concern, schedule an appointment with Knoxville dentist Dr. Wes Mullins, who can determine the cause of bad breath and provide treatment options.
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