Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is breath that has an unpleasant odor. This odor can strike periodically or be persistent, depending on the cause.Bad breath can be embarrassing and in some cases may even cause anxiety. It’s no wonder that store shelves are overflowing with gum, mints, mouthwashes and other products designed to fight bad breath. But many of these products are only temporary measures because they don’t address the cause of the problem.
In most people, the millions of bacteria that live in the mouth (particularly on the back of the tongue) are the primary causes of bad breath. The mouth’s warm, moist conditions make an ideal environment for the for these bacteria to grow
Poor dental hygiene .
If you don’t brush and floss daily, food particles remain in your mouth, causing bad breath. A colorless, sticky film of bacteria (plaque) forms on your teeth and if not brushed away, plaque can irritate your gums (gingivitis) and eventually form plaque-filled pockets between your teeth and gums (periodontitis). The uneven surface of the tongue also can trap bacteria that produce odors. And dentures that aren’t cleaned regularly or don’t fit properly can harbor odor-causing bacteria and food particles.
Some types of bad breath, such as “morning mouth,” are considered to be fairly normal, and they usually are not health concerns. The “morning mouth” type of bad breath occurs because the saliva that regularly washes away decaying food and odors during the daytime diminishes at night while you sleep. Your mouth becomes dry, and dead cells adhere to your tongue and to the inside of your cheeks. Bacteria use these cells for food and expel compounds that have a foul odor.
Improper cleaning of dentures. Dentures that are not cleaned properly may be collecting bacteria, fungi, and remaining food particles, which cause bad breath
Infections in the mouth — as a result of tooth decay, gum disease or mouth sores. Bad breath can be caused by surgical wounds after oral surgery, such as tooth removal
Respiratory tract infections Bad breath can occasionally stem from infection of the tonsils where bacteria produce odorous chemicals. Infections or chronic inflammation in the nose, sinuses or throat, which can contribute to postnasal drip, also can cause bad breath.
External agents — Garlic, onions, coffee, cigarette smoking, chewing tobacco and alcohol.The things you eat contribute largely to your oral health, including your breath. Items such as garlic and onions, or any food, are absorbed into the bloodstream, become transferred into the lungs, and are expelled in the air you breathe. Until that food becomes eliminated by the body, it has the potential to affect a person’s breath.
Dry mouth (xerostomia) — This can be caused by salivary gland problems, medications,certain diseases or by “mouth breathing.”
Medications. Some medications can indirectly produce bad breath by contributing to dry mouth. Others can be broken down in the body to release chemicals that can be carried on your breath.
Systemic illnesses — Diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, lung disease, sinus disease, reflux disease and others
Psychiatric illness — Some people may perceive that they have bad breath, but it is not noticed by oral-health-care professionals or others. This is referred to as “pseudohalitosis.”
A person may not always know that he or she has bad breath. This phenomenon is because odor-detecting cells in the nose eventually become accustomed to the constant flow of bad smells from the mouth. Others may notice and react by recoiling as you speak.
Other associated symptoms that help isolate possible cause-
Poor dental hygiene — Teeth are coated with film called plaque, food debris trapped between teeth, pale or swollen gums
Infections in the mouth — Gums may be red, swollen and bleed easily, especially after brushing or flossing; pus may drain from between teeth; a pocket of pus (abscess) at the base of a tooth; loose teeth or a change in “fit” of a denture; painful, open sores on the tongue or gums
Respiratory tract infections — Sore throat, swollen lymph nodes (“swollen glands”) in the neck, fever, stuffy nose, a greenish or yellowish nasal discharge, a mucus-producing cough
External agents — Cigarette stains on fingers and teeth, a uniform yellow “coffee stain” on teeth
Dry mouth — Difficulty swallowing dry foods, difficulty speaking for a prolonged period because of mouth dryness, a burning sensation in the mouth, an unusually high number of dental caries, dry eyes (in Sjögren’s syndrome)
Systemic (bodywide) illnesses — Symptoms of diabetes, lung disease, kidney failure or liver disease
Factors that affect the oesphagus and stomach cause bad breath — Gastritis and food reflux and Food stagnation.
Your dentist will examine your teeth, gums, oral tissues and salivary glands. Once the physical examination is finished, your dentist may refer you to your family physician if systemic problems are the most likely cause. In severe cases of gum disease, your dentist may recommend that you be seen by a periodontist (dentist who specializes in gum problems).
You will need diagnostic tests if the doctor suspects a lung infection, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease or Sjögren’s syndrome. Depending on the suspected illness, these tests may include blood tests, urine tests, X-rays of the chest or sinuses, or other specialized testing.
How long bad breath lasts depends on its cause. For example, when the problem results from poor dental hygiene, proper dental care will begin to freshen the mouth immediately, with even more impressive results after a few days of regular brushing and flossing. Periodontal disease and tooth abscess also respond quickly to proper dental treatment.
Bad breath the results from a systemic illness may be a long-term problem that can often be controlled with proper medical care.
-Maintain a high level of dental and mouth hygiene. In addition to brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time with a fluoride toothpaste containing an antibacterial, it is important to clean between the teeth using interdental brushes or dental floss, as recommended by your dentist and also brushing after meals without toothpaste only with your brush helps significantly.
-Use a tongue cleaner and clean right to the back of the tongue.
-Use a mouthwash containing an antibacterial ingredient as recommended by your dentist, hygienist or pharmacist after brushing. It is important not to use a mouthwash just to mask bad breath.
-Use a tongue cleaner and clean right to the back of the tongue. Drink plenty of fluids, avoiding too much coffee.
-Chew sugar-free gum after meals and especially if your mouth feels dry.
-Eat a healthy diet with at least five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day.
Visit your dentist or hygienist regularly as often as they recommend and have your teeth professionally cleaned as needed.
Bad breath also can be combated by drinking plenty of water every day to encourage saliva production. An occasional swish of the mouth with water can loosen food particles. Other products that keep breath fresh and prevent plaque from forming include sugar-free gum, sugarless lozenges, raw carrots and celery.
When To Call A Professional
Call your dentist promptly if you have bad breath with painful, swollen gums that bleed easily or loose teeth. Also, call your doctor if you have bad breath along with a fever, sore throat, a postnasal drip, a discolored nasal discharge or a mucus-producing cough. Even if you have none of these associated symptoms, call your dentist or physician if your bad breath continues despite a good diet and proper dental hygiene.
Bad breath can be a sign that your underlying medical condition which needs immediate medical attention- Consult your doctor
Once bad breath has been diagnosed, the outlook for fresh breath is usually excellent as long as you stick to your dentist’s or physician’s treatment plan.
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