|By Dr. Harold Katz - Bad Breath Expert|
When your exhaled breath is accompanied by a noticeably unpleasant odor, you have halitosis. This bad breath generally originates in the mouth and its intensity fluctuates due to a number of factors. Furthermore, as the process of acclimation can make it difficult to smell your own breath, it is possible that you have halitosis and are not yet aware of it. It is far easier to detect this condition in others than it is to identify your own halitosis. To best fight this condition, it is important to first identify halitosis causes.
One cause of halitosis is the food that you eat. As you put food into your mouth, it begins to break down into particles both in and around your teeth. Your body digests these foods and absorbs them into your bloodstream, which carries these particles into your lungs. Once these particles reach your lungs, they will be given off in your exhaled breath. This will continue until the food has completely passed through your body.
Foods that emanate strong odors or contain certain oils can have a particularly negative effect on your breath. These include foods that count garlic or onions as a key ingredient. With these foods, even brushing, flossing and mouthwash can only temporarily mask your bad breath. Only time will completely remove these odors from your lungs.
If you are experiencing halitosis, poor dental hygiene may be the cause. You should be brushing your teeth every day, and also flossing. When you do not have a daily regimen of brushing and flossing, you are allowing food particles to remain in your teeth and mouth. These ignored food particles will allow bacteria to grow around your gums, on your tongue and between your teeth. The bacteria can then emit chemicals that result in bad breath.
When a colorless film of bacteria forms on your teeth, it is referred to as plaque. If this plaque is not removed, it can cause gingivitis and tooth decay. It can also result in pockets of plaque forming between your gums and teeth, which will cause your halitosis to worsen. The tongue’s uneven surface can also trap food particles and bacteria that result in bad breath, as can improperly fitting or uncleaned dentures.
One chemical commonly associated with halitosis is hydrogen sulfide. This is the same chemical that gives rotten eggs their signature stench, so it is important to keep it out of your mouth by brushing and flossing regularly.
Not only is dry mouth a medical condition referred to as xerostomia, but it is also one of the leading halitosis causes. As your saliva is a crucial component in moistening and cleansing your mouth, a lack of this saliva can result in you developing halitosis. Saliva neutralizes the acids produced by plaque and removes particles associated with bad breath odors. It also washes dead cells away from your tongue, cheeks and gums. When these cells are not removed and allowed to accumulate, they can decompose into a halitosis-producing substance.
Dry mouth can arise due to a number of factors. If you have a problem with your salivary glands or are exclusively breathing through your mouth, it can cause you to experience dry mouth. Certain medications can also result in a constant state of dry mouth. These include medications designed to treat urinary problems, high blood pressure and psychiatric conditions.
Morning breath is a state of halitosis that results from the natural state of dry mouth that you experience in your sleep. It is particularly exacerbated if you sleep with your mouth open. The practice of smoking or chewing tobacco can result in dry mouth, and the tobacco also produces an unpleasant odor in your mouth.
While halitosis generally arises in your mouth itself, the Mayo Clinic reports that approximately 10 percent of diagnosed halitosis cases do not arise from oral causes. When halitosis does not come from your mouth, it is referred to as extra-oral halitosis. This form of halitosis is often caused by an illness.
Some metabolic disorders and forms of cancer create halitosis in your body by producing chemicals that result in an unpleasant breath odor. If you are exhaling a fishy odor and have not eaten any seafood, your halitosis may be due to diabetes, liver failure or kidney failure. If your diabetes is untreated, it can even cause your breath to exhibit a fruity smell. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is another ailment commonly associated with halitosis. The medications that you are using to treat a disease can also break down into halitosis-causing chemicals.
Conditions of the mouth, nose and throat are other examples of halitosis causes. For example, a sinus infection can cause a nasal discharge to drip from your sinuses into the back of your throat. This will result in an unpleasant smell emanating from your mouth.
Occasionally, small stones actually form in people’s tonsils that become covered in stench-producing bacteria. Ulcers located in your respiratory system can also produce halitosis, as can respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis. Furthermore, if your oral-nasal cavity is malformed, it can provide the perfect environment for halitosis-forming bacteria to grow.
To best fight halitosis, it is important to review the many different halitosis causes and identify which ones might be applicable to you. You should take care to always practice proper dental hygiene and pay attention to the foods that you put into your body. If you do develop the condition, a dentist can usually help to treat it. There are also a number of products available to kill germs that cause bad breath, such as TheraBreath PLUS Oral Rinse. With a little care, you should be able to keep halitosis out of your life.
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Bad Breath: Causes. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bad-breath/DS00025/DSECTION=causes. Accessibility verified October 5, 2011.
Rosenberg M. The Science of Bad Breath. Scientific American. 2002; 286: 729.
Web MD. Bad Breath Causes, Treatments, and Prevention. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/bad-breath. Accessibility verified October 5, 2011.
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