|By Dr. Harold Katz - Bad Breath Expert|
Halitosis (bad breath) is a condition everyone experiences from time to time on a temporary basis. Some of the common causes for occasional halitosis include the consumption of certain foods such as garlic, onions or pungent spices, poor oral hygiene and smoking.
Chronic halitosis, however, is not a temporary condition. It occurs on a frequent, habitual basis and may be resistant to efforts undertaken to cure its symptoms. For those suffering from constant, daily bad breath, it is unpleasant not only for them but also for those with whom they come in contact. Others are usually reluctant to mention the presence of halitosis in a friend or co-worker, but may instead offer chewing gum or breath mints as a hint to the problem.
It is estimated that approximately one-quarter of the population suffers from persistent halitosis and, while most cases can be traced to 'bad' bacteria in the mouth, chronic halitosis can have several causes. The first step in curing the problem is isolating the exact cause. Getting a professional diagnosis from a dentist or periodontist can help, especially if a Halimeter is used to determine the exact amount of excess volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) in the mouth. It is the VSC compounds (the by-products of the anaerobic bacteria present in everyone's mouth) that are the cause of an estimated 90% of halitosis. Other causes may be related to postnasal drip, polyps on the tonsils, dentures that are ill fitting or improperly cleaned and gum disease. Click here to learn more about halitosis.
Proper Daily Oral Hygiene to Prevent Chronic Halitosis
Your mouth contains hundreds of different species of bacteria that are normally balanced out sufficiently to produce healthy smelling breath. There are, however about three-dozen bacteria species determined by scientific investigation to be present only in those suffering with halitosis. These microorganisms sustain themselves by breaking down proteins found in the mouth, which create amino acids and gaseous compounds (such as hydrogen sulfide) that produce a sulfurous 'rotten egg' smell.
Regular, proper brushing, flossing and gargling can do quite a bit to alleviate a halitosis problem, but a quick brushing twice a day is not enough. Many people spend less than a minute when they are brushing, which is not enough time to clean all tooth surfaces, cheeks and gums. Flossing is critical in order to remove food particles from in between teeth, depriving the bacteria in the mouth from this source of protein. One of the most important tasks for alleviating chronic halitosis is cleaning the back of the tongue where the bacteria are generally allowed to thrive with little disruption.
Avoiding Known Causes of Chronic Halitosis
One of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent a persistent halitosis problem is to avoid things commonly known to cause it. A change in diet can be beneficial, electing to steer clear of foods containing things like onions, garlic or strong spices. Alcohol consumption, a known cause of bad breath, can also be moderated to decrease dry mouth, a common cause of halitosis. Drinking coffee, tea or other caffeine-laden drinks not only alters the body's pH balance due to their high acidity, but also acts as a diuretic, depleting the body of needed hydration.
A dehydrated body is more prone to experiencing halitosis symptoms. Even sports drinks, meant to re-hydrate the body typically contain high amounts of sugar on which the bacteria in your mouth will flourish. Tobacco smokers, who are certainly aware of the health hazards attributed to this habit, can add halitosis to their list of reasons to quit.
Chronic Halitosis Treatment Methods
While regular, diligent attention to proper oral hygiene is, perhaps, the most important defense against chronic halitosis, it should be noted that most over the counter toothpastes, mouthwashes and breath mints only provide temporary relief to the condition. It is important to treat the source of the chronic halitosis with the right products. Be sure to visit a dentist or doctor to get a proper diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
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