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Bad Breath Causes and Treatment

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Chronic bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be very embarrassing, but it is nearly always treatable. As is the case with many common dental problems, curing bad breath is frequently as simple as improving your oral hygiene or changing your diet. However, in other cases, bad breath indicates more serious health problems that may require professional medical attention.

Read on to learn more about the causes, prevention, and treatment of bad breath.

Causes of Bad Breath

There are many causes of bad breath, including:

Bacterial Infections

The most common cause of bad breath is bacterial buildup in the mouth, especially around the teeth, gums, and tongue. These bacteria feed on carbohydrates such as sugars left in the mouth after eating, causing the buildup known as plaque that is responsible for gum disease (gingivitis) and tooth decay (cavities). As these bacteria break down food and multiply, they emit a foul odor. Decaying teeth and infected gums make the odor worse.

Certain Foods

Some foods also tend to cause bad breath. Garlic, onions, and other foods containing volatile oils are common culprits, as the oils they contain are transmitted to the lungs for days after being consumed. Other food matter can cause bad breath as it breaks down in the mouth.

Certain Medical Conditions

In certain cases, bad breath can be linked to medical conditions that do not directly affect the teeth, gums, or tongue. Sinus infections and other such conditions that cause a nasal discharge into the throat may be responsible for bad breath, as may throat and respiratory infections. The blood sugar fluctuations associated with diabetes often make the breath smell unpleasantly fruity. Acid reflux (GERD) can also cause bad breath.

Certain forms of bad breath may even indicate life-threatening medical conditions. Some cancers and metabolic disorders may cause chronic bad breath. In addition, liver failure can cause the breath to smell like fish, while kidney failure can cause a urine-like breath odor. If you have an unusual breath odor, such as these, that persists, you should be examined promptly by your doctor.

Treating and Preventing Bad Breath

Many people rely on mints, chewing gum, and other such products to control bad breath, but these strategies simply mask the odor without addressing its underlying causes. The most common cause of bad breath is food breakdown and bacteria in the mouth, which can be easily remedied with improved dental hygiene. Regular flossing and brushing in conjunction with periodic professional cleaning appointments are enough to control plaque and keep the mouth healthy and odor free. The other important step many people take is to avoid behaviors that can cause bad breath, such as eating certain foods and using tobacco products. Additionally, patients should visit their dentist regularly for check-ups, typically once every six months.

Find a Local Dentist Today

If you are bothered by persistent bad breath, a dental health professional can help you explore your options and get the treatment you need. Use the DocShop local database to find a dentist in your area and schedule an appointment.

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