Do you often cover your mouth when you speak or often look away while talking with somebody? Do you spend a lot of money buying every brand of breath freshener you see on ads everyday? Are you worried about your breath?
With the many ads bombarding us everyday implying that people somehow are secretly repulsed by our breath, many of us probably will wonder, “Do I have bad breath or am I offending other people with my breath?” This is usually a pointless concern. Only very few people have halitosis or true bad breath, fewer than the common ads usually imply. Chronic halitosis is usually caused by some underlying medical or dental problems.
We all have natural breath odors. There are common breath odors and most often, these are mild and temporary. Your breath may sometimes smell a little sour and you are not alone. Everyone’s breath grows increasingly pungent from adolescence on.
Food can spoil your breath. The most common food offenders are garlic and onion. These can stay in your breath up to 24 hours even after you brush your teeth. More often food particles can be the cause of bad breath. Food particles left in between the teeth usually rot and produce the smell. Flossing will usually remove these food particles when brushing alone fails to dislodge them. Smoking and drinking too can leave their trace in your breath.
While eating too much and leaving behind food particles in your mouth can cause bad breath, not eating at all can still produce bad breath. Dieters often develop mildly unpleasant “hunger breath”. Taking in some food can easily cure this problem. Have you noticed your breath every time you wake up in the morning?
This is what we call “morning breath”. This is due to less movement of the tongue while we sleep and the slow secretion of saliva. Because of this lesser activity in our oral cavity, the dead cells that line our mouth are no longer rubbed off, swallowed or washed away. Those dead cells are then broken down by bacteria producing bad odor. This however usually disappears as soon as we brush our teeth or take in some food.
True halitosis or bad breath is commonly caused by dental problems. Poor dental hygiene can lead to gum disease. Gum disease is a common cause of bad breath. If you fail to clean your mouth regularly, you allow the dental plaque to accumulate along the gum lines and dental surfaces causing gum disease. Dental plaque is a white sticky film that contains bacteria, saliva and food debris.
The accumulation of dental plaque along the dental surfaces and gum lines eventually create dental pockets in between gums and teeth. The bacteria found inside the dental pockets break down proteins and dead cells producing offensive odors. The odor may be intensified by the decaying blood from the bleeding gums. If the halitosis is not dental in nature, it may be caused by an underlying medical problem.
The problem can usually be traced to a local infection in the respiratory tract like the nose, throat, windpipe and lungs. The respiratory infection can be a chronic sinusitis with postnasal drip or it can also be bronchitis. There are also cases when the causative factors are gastrointestinal problems like hiatal hernia or diverticulum of the esophagus.
Dry mouth can also cause halitosis. Any conditions causing dry mouth can lead to bad breath. These include dehydration, salivary gland disorders, fever and some medications. Breathing through the mouth can also cause halitosis.
If the cause of halitosis is a dental illness like gum disease, proper oral hygiene can usually curb the problem. Visit your dentist regularly and have your teeth cleaned professionally twice a year. Proper tooth brushing techniques and flossing can usually remove the plaque and food debris in between the teeth and gum lines. Brush your teeth after every meal including in between snacks. It will also be helpful to gently brush your tongue especially if it is coated. The bacteria on your tongue can also cause bad breath.