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All you need to know about bad breathcauses and symptoms and solution

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9 months ago

Overview

Bad breath, also called halitosis, can be embarrassing and

in some cases may even cause anxiety. It's no wonder

that store shelves are overflowing with gum, mints,

mouthwashes and other products designed to fight bad

breath. But many of these products are only temporary

measures because they don't address the cause of the

problem.

Certain foods, health conditions and habits are among the

causes of bad breath. In many cases, you can improve

bad breath with consistent proper dental hygiene. If simple

self-care techniques don't solve the problem, see your

dentist or physician to be sure a more serious condition

isn't causing your bad breath.

Symptoms

Bad breath odors vary, depending on the source or the

underlying cause. Some people worry too much about

their breath even though they have little or no mouth odor,

while others have bad breath and don't know it. Because

it's difficult to assess how your own breath smells, ask a

close friend or relative to confirm your bad-breath

questions.

When to see a doctor

If you have bad breath, review your oral hygiene habits.

Try making lifestyle changes, such as brushing your teeth

and tongue after eating, using dental floss, and drinking

plenty of water.

If your bad breath persists after making such changes, see

your dentist. If your dentist suspects a more serious

condition is causing your bad breath, he or she may refer

you to a physician to find the cause of the odor.

Causes

Most bad breath starts in your mouth, and there are many

possible causes. They include:

Food. The breakdown of food particles in and around your

teeth can increase bacteria and cause a foul odor. Eating

certain foods, such as onions, garlic and spices, also can

cause bad breath. After you digest these foods, they enter

your bloodstream, are carried to your lungs and affect your

breath.

Tobacco products. Smoking causes its own unpleasant

mouth odor. Smokers and oral tobacco users are also

more likely to have gum disease, another source of bad

breath.

Poor dental hygiene. If you don't brush and floss daily,

food particles remain in your mouth, causing bad breath. A

colorless, sticky film of bacteria (plaque) forms on your

teeth. If not brushed away, plaque can irritate your gums

and eventually form plaque-filled pockets between your

teeth and gums (periodontitis). Your tongue also can trap

bacteria that produce odors. Dentures that aren't cleaned

regularly or don't fit properly can harbor odor-causing

bacteria and food particles.

Dry mouth. Saliva helps cleanse your mouth, removing

particles that cause bad odors. A condition called dry

mouth or xerostomia (zeer–o-STOE-me-uh) can

contribute to bad breath because production of saliva is

decreased. Dry mouth naturally occurs during sleep,

leading to "morning breath," and it worsens if you sleep

with your mouth open. Chronic dry mouth can be caused

by a problem with your salivary glands and some diseases.

Medications. Some medications can indirectly produce

bad breath by contributing to dry mouth. Others can be

broken down in the body to release chemicals that can be

carried on your breath.

Infections in your mouth. Bad breath can be caused by

surgical wounds after oral surgery, such as tooth removal,

or as a result of tooth decay, gum disease or mouth

sores.

Other mouth, nose and throat conditions. Bad breath can

occasionally stem from small stones that form in the

tonsils and are covered with bacteria that produce odor.

Infections or chronic inflammation in the nose, sinuses or

throat, which can contribute to postnasal drip, also can

cause bad breath.

Other causes. Diseases, such as some cancers, and

conditions such as metabolic disorders, can cause a

distinctive breath odor as a result of chemicals they

produce. Chronic reflux of stomach acids

(gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) can be

associated with bad breath. Bad breath in young children

can be caused by a foreign body, such as a piece of food,

lodged in a nostril.

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