Most people think that bad breath is caused only by poor dental hygiene. However, chronic bad breath, a condition known as halitosis, can stem from various medical problems, dry mouth and even the Atkins diet.
If you have a consistent bad breath problem it is wise to visit your dentist in order to determine the cause of the problem. There are several possible reasons for bad breath such as dental decay, or gum disease. The dentist can diagnose other problems which cause bad breath including yeast infections of the mouth, dental caries,poorly fitting dental appliances and periodontal disease.
The medical condition dry mouth – also called xerostomia – can also cause bad breath. Anything that dries the mouth makes bad breath worse, because saliva cleanses the mouth.When there is not enough saliva in your mouth to wash away food particles and bacteria, bad breath can result.Alcohol, alcohol-containing mouthwashes, fasting and heavy exercise can all result in a dry mouth and worsen a bad breath problem.Drugs associated with producing dry mouth may also produce bad breath – antidepressants,blood pressure treatments,diuretics and antihistamines.
Bacteria on the back of the tongue are one of the commonest causes of bad breath.The bacteria produces a number of odors including volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) which are believed to be the major cause of halitosis.Some people with bad breath have a white or grayish coating on their tongue.Tongue cleaning is by far the most effective way of combating bad breath.
Many people have occasional bad breath, often on first awakening,or following an evening of alcoholic partying.Certain foods like garlic and onions can produce bad breath but only on a temporary basis.
A deficiency of vitamin B and zinc may be the cause of your bad breath.Smoking can also cause bad breath,reduce your ability to taste foods,stain teeth and irritate gum tissues.
Many medical problems can have bad breath as a side effect – such as kidney disease,cancer,lung problems, infections of the throat,tuberculosis,gastroesophageal reflux,uncontrolled diabetes,allergies and sinusitis.
Most toothpastes can be a cause of bad breath because the stuff that makes the foam actually promotes production of volatile sulfur compounds.Many of the mints and washes people use to combat halitosis dry out gum tissue and only cover bad breath.
However, mouthwashes containing chlorine dioxide are very effective at combating bad breath.
The Bad Breath Test
It is possible to suffer from bad breath without being aware of it.Some people suggest a simple test which you can do yourself to detect bad breath.The best way to find out if you have bad breath is to lick your wrist,wait ten seconds,and then smell your wrist.
There are individuals who suffer from halitophobia and believe that they have bad breath,but no physical or social evidence exists to suggest that halitosis is present.
What Can You Do?
Avoid bad breath by drinking lots of water.Drink peppermint tea, spiked with a pinch of anise or cinnamon.
One traditional bad breath cure which is backed up by modern research is yoghurt. Japanese researchers found eating the yoghurt reduced levels of hydrogen sulfide – a major cause of bad breath.
If you get a case of bad breath which persists despite good oral hygiene, consult your dentist and physician.