February 3, 2010

Halitosis Basics

Halitosis is a term used for bad breath. The main cause of bad breath is sulfur, which is given off by bits of food as they break down. Bacteria in the mouth is also a cause of bad breath.

While mouthwash may mask bad breath for a while, the best way to stop it is through good oral hygiene. To lower the risk of bad breath, brush twice a day (both the teeth and the tongue) and floss each day to clean food and bacteria out of your mouth.

Less Common Causes of Halitosis

There are a few less common causes for bad breath as well. Bad breath can crop up in diabetics, for example, as well as in those with kidney or liver problems. It also may plague those with periodontal (gum) disease. If you have postnasal drip, the mucus that stays on your tongue may cause bad breath. Those who suffer from dry mouth may get bad breath as well. This is because they lack the saliva that normally helps to remove the bits of food and bacteria that cause bad breath.

Of course, to some extent, everyone gets dry mouth in the form of “morning mouth.” This is due to the fact that salivary glands do not work as much while you sleep. A meal in the morning can solve this problem. That’s why it is a bad idea to skip breakfast if you want to avoid bad breath.

Spicy Foods and Tobacco

Some foods are more likely to cause bad breath than others are. For instance, foods like garlic and onions are strong enough to stay on a person’s breath for up to three days. The same is true of coffee.

Needless to say, cigarettes and other tobacco products also cause bad breath. They also take a toll on one’s oral health by inflaming gum tissues and discoloring teeth.

Dental Hygiene and Bad Breath

Good dental hygiene––including regular visits to the dentist––is often the best way to fight bad breath. When that won’t work, a dentist can refer a patient to a specialist to address the issue.