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Bad Breath: What It Is, What Causes it, What To Do About It
What is bad breath?
Bad breath, sometimes referred to as halitosis, is an unpleasant odor of the breath. Most adults experience this occasionally, and it can have a significant impact on a person’s social and professional life. For the majority of people, the most frequent cause of breath odor is related to poor conditions in the mouth. There are some cases of bad breath that originate in the stomach and digestive system, but these are rare. Some oral bacteria produce sulfur compounds as waste, and it is primarily this bacterial waste that causes bad breath odor.
The Causes of Bad Breath
In the vast majority of cases bad breath is caused by the decay of food particles that are not removed from the mouth by brushing and flossing. Oral bacteria use these particles as food, and they produce waste that in many instances are compounds of sulfur. This is what produces the foul odor. In some cases, it can be caused by issues in the stomach and digestive system. If your bad breath is chronic, you may need to seek help from your dentist to properly diagnose the origin of the problem.
Signs and Symptoms
Sometimes, bad breath can be difficult to notice yourself. You may need to ask a friend or family member to help with your self-diagnosis. Some other symptoms you may notice during bouts with bad breath are:
How it Progresses
The obvious negatives about bad breath other than the recurring foul taste you may have in your mouth are the effects it can have on your personal and professional life. It can cause social anxiety, and prevent you from feeling as confident as you normally might. There are other dangers associated with bad breath, as the bacteria that cause it can also cause gum disease. In a strange way, you can actually look at bad breath as a good thing as it can be a warning sign that notifies you to get your oral health in check before anything worse can happen.
The best way to prevent bad breath is by maintaining a good oral hygiene program. This will include brushing at least twice a day, flossing at least once a day to remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth, and using a mouth rinse to reach the areas your brush and floss cannot. In cases of bad breath, it’s also important to brush the tongue. Replace your toothbrush every 2-3 months, and see your dentist for regular cleanings every 6 months.
In most cases, the best options for treating bad breath are the same that can prevent it. Make sure you’re taking better care of your mouth in general, and usually this will prevent those bacteria from producing those foul odors. Gum and mints are other options as well, but generally just mask breath instead of treating the actual cause of it. If you do go that route, be sure to use sugar free products, as ones with sugar will only feed the bacteria that you need to eliminate.
If you try to treat bad breath odor itself and not the underlying cause, it will certainly end up being more expensive in the long run. You could spend your entire life’s savings on an endless supply of mints and gum and still be no better off than when you started. Consider also the cost you may have to pay both socially and professionally for embarrassing bad breath. You may pay more on the front end for a real solution, but it will pay you back dividends in the future.
What to do about it
If improving your oral hygiene plan and eliminating odor causing bacteria doesn’t completely correct your bad breath issue, be sure to ask your doctor about it. Though fewer, there are still numerous cases of digestive issues leading to bad breath, and these should not be overlooked.
While there are products that mask the odor, you should consider a product that over time will eliminate bad breath.