Bad Breath (Halitosis)
There are many causes of bad breath. Some of them simply lead to a nuisance for vanity. While others can be signs of greater health concerns.
1) Things We Eat – foods like garlic and onions contain sulfurous chemicals that remain in your stomach and may travel in the bloodstream to the lungs. This will cause temporary odor upon every exhaled breath. And for those lovers of garlic, there is help. Recent studies in the Journal of Food and Science indicate that milk, when consumed with garlic, may help to reduce the subsequent halitosis.
2) Sleeping – Whenever one’s mouth gets dry less saliva is available to rinse away the odor causing bacteria in the mouth. So, it is very important to maintain proper oral moisture. This is one reason why morning breath occurs. Usually we will go for six to ten hours without consuming fluids or stimulating salivary flows which allows for the stinky oral bacteria to build up. Mouth breathers will allow their mouths to dry out even faster.
3) Medication – As we age, we usually need more and more medications to maintain our health. Many medications we consume today have dry mouth (xerostomia) as a side-effect. With decreased salivary production, one’s propensity for the oral bacteria to thrive increases. Oral lubricants such as Biotine products or Oasis mouthwash may help to provide dry mouth relief.
4) Hiding Places – Some people have more hiding places for odoriferous foods and bacteria to hide in the mouth. The two most common locations are the tongue and tonsils. The tongue can vary in texture. And those with more fibrous tongues tend to make it more difficult to clean. Also, those that still have their tonsils provide crypts for food and bacteria. These bacteria can inflame the tonsils overtime and can harbor a reservoir for odor. Also, those who wear mouth appliances such as dentures, retainers, etc. need to clean them regularly.
5) Sickness – Sometimes the accumulation of mucus and bacteria in the mouth and sinus cavities when one is sick can create odors. This stink will often not resolve until the infection passes.
6) Reduced Salivary Flow – Some people develop reduced salivary flow over their life. Most commonly this occurs as side effects of many medications. However, some people develop Sjogren’s Disease. This is a condition, predominantly affecting women, in which one’s body will decreases the saliva production. Oral lubricants such as Biotine products or Oasis mouthwash may help to provide dry mouth relief for less severe cases. However, prescriptions may be needed for more advanced situations.
7) Smoking – And, of course, smoking is not healthy for anyone. The bad breath caused by the habit should be the least of one’s concerns. There are many methods to assist in quitting smoking, your dentist can assist you with this goal.
8) More Serious Concerns – Lastly, there are many more serious conditions in which chronic bad breath is often one of the first signs of deteriorating health. These conditions include: gum disease, kidney problems, diabetes, oral cancer, anorexia/bulimia. So, it is always important to inform your dentist of chronic bad breath problems that you cannot seem to solve yourself.