Halitosis is the medical term for chronic bad breath. Having halitosis is far different than having bad breath from eating too much garlic. Halitosis is a lingering bad breath and could be an indicator of something more serious going on with your health.
What Causes Halitosis?
–What We Eat. What we consume at meals and snack time can definitely cause halitosis as mentioned previously. As we eat, the foods are absorbed into our blood stream and eventually out thru the lungs. These foods just need to be removed from the body for the halitosis to disappear. Brushing and flossing will only mask the odor for a short time before it returns. The most common foods of this type are:
-Orange juice or soda
Many popular diets run into a problem with halitosis for these reasons. The large amounts of certain foods they choose to eat will linger in the body and cause chronic halitosis until they are removed.
-Xerostomia or Dry Mouth. Refers to a condition in which the salivary glands in your mouth do not produce enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. Our saliva acts as a helper to our dental health and this includes warding off halitosis as well. Our saliva has the ability to rinse our mouths when eating, help break down foods, and keep bacteria at bay to fight tooth decay. A lack of saliva would definitely lead to chronic halitosis. Saliva also enhances your ability to taste and makes it easier to chew and swallow. Dry mouth can be caused by many factors. These include:
–Prescription And Over The Counter Medications. Countless medications produce dry mouth as a side effect. The most common dry mouth cuplrits include antihistamines, decongestants, and pain medications.
–Medical Conditions. These include diabetes, stroke, yeast infection (also called thrush) in your mouth, Alzheimer’s disease, or autoimmune diseases (including AIDS/HIV).
–Mouth Breathing And Snoring. These two acts while often inter related can also cause dry mouth.
–Cancer Treatment. Chemotherapy drugs can alter your saliva and the amount your salivary glands produce. This could be a temporary situation, with normal salivary flow returning after cancer treatment is completed. Radiation treatments in the head and neck area can also lead to damage of salivary glands. This damage could cause a marked decrease in saliva production. This could be temporary or permanent.
–Tobacco And Alcohol Use. Both are known to increase dry mouth symptoms.
–Excessive Caffeine Consumption. Another known cause of dry mouth.
-Mouth, Nose and Throat Infections. Postnasal drip, due to head and neck infections may also contribute to bad breath. Bacteria feeds on mucus your body produces when it is battling something like a sinus infection.
–Dental Health Issues. Tooth decay and periodontal disease can lead to long term chronic halitosis if left untreated. The bacteria in the mouth will be out of control and difficult to bring under control unless seen by a dentist.
The following are simple dental health tips to ward off halitosis:
–Watch What You Eat And Drink. Avoid foods and drinks that are known to cause bad breath. Choose more fruits and vegetables and drink more water to stay hydrated.
–Choose Sugar Free Mints And Gum. Both of these will stimulate salivary production to help cleanse the mouth and help ward off tooth decay. They will also give you a temporary fresh smelling breath.
–Avoid Tobacco Products.
–Floss Daily. It is recommended to floss after every meal but 1x per day should keep breath smelling fresh.
–Brush after every meal. Use an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste and brush at minimum 2x per day.
–Use An Antiseptic Mouthwash. Listerine is a good example.
–Be extra vigilant if you have orthodontic braces. Food and plaque can build up around brackets very easily.
What Is Halitosis? Conclusion
Halitosis is an embarassing problem to have but it can also be a sign that something more serious is happening in your body. If you have persistent halitosis, you should see your dentist and rule out the obvious causes. Your dentist will be able to diagnose the issue and get you back on track to fresher breath. With a professional cleaning and dental examination, your dentist can help rule out any dental health problems and educate you on at home dental hygiene. This will include what types of dental products to use or refer you to a physician for follow up.