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Halitosis (Bad Breath) – Causes and Tips

Halitosis is a condition characterized by a foul smell originating in the mouth. In other words, bad breath, and there can be a whole range of causes. If you have it, you have to cure it not just to save you from embarrassment, but more importantly to protect you against an underlying health problem that could be manifesting as halitosis at this point.

The Tongue

About 90% of bad breath-causing bacteria live on the tongue. In particular, these germs may cover those minute papillae, leading to halitosis. Give your tongue a long, hard look in the mirror. If you see some kind of coating, then you likely have bad breath. When brushing, people sometimes just focus on their teeth and ignore their tongue, which also needs regular cleaning. A tongue scraper works better though (instead of a toothbrush) to get rid of the coating, which is practically a combination of food bits, bacteria and dead cells.

Throat Issues

The offensive odor from the mouth could also be come from the throat. A common throat condition that brings bad breath is tonsillitis – when tonsils are infected and there are tonsil stones, halitosis results. Respiratory tract infections of any kind can cause this condition too, such as pneumonia, chronic sinus infections and even chronic acid reflux, to name a few.

Gastrointestinal Causes

Halitosis may also arise from issues affecting the GI system. In people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stomach acids – which may come with bile and undigested food – go back up to the esophagus, leading to bad breath. When vomiting becomes dehydrating, it can cause bad breath too as the mouth dries. Saliva keeps the mouth moist and helps remove bacteria and food particles.

Dental Issues

Halitosis can result from dental problems like gum disease and dental cavities too. So if you have any of those, you might want to have it fixed by your dentist before it causes bad breath, if it hasn’t. Yes, it could be a dental problem, or it could be totally unrelated to dentistry. If your dentist thinks it’s beyond dentistry, they will give you advice as necessary.

Tips for Fighting Bad Breath

– Drink enough water everyday (dry mouth equals bad breath). – Before going to sleep every night, be sure to remove your dentures and clean them thoroughly. – Brush your teeth twice daily and floss everyday too. – See your dentist on a regular basis for cleanings and checkups. – Stay away from tobacco and odor-causing foods such as raw garlic and onions. – Eat more cloves, aniseeds and fennel seeds, which all have antibacterial properties; and odor-neutralizing fresh herbs like basil and cilantro.
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