Most people at some time in their lives experience halitosis (bad breath), and many people suffer from chronic halitosis. The most common cause of bad breath is particles of food remaining in the mouth after meals. These particles accumulate between the teeth, on the tongue and around the gums. When they interact with the bacteria in your mouth, the trapped food particles cause an unpleasant odor. Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth can be warning signs of gum disease. Gum disease (gingivitis or periodontitis) is caused by the same food particles that accumulate in the mouth and form plaque and calculus. Regular dental checkups will help detect gum disease, and allow treatment at the earliest stage possible.
Bad breath may also be a result of a disorder called xerostomia, or dry mouth, usually caused by certain medications and medical conditions. A dental professional can diagnose xerostomia and help you alleviate dry mouth symptoms. Proper salivary function helps to naturally cleanse the mouth of odor causing particles. Certain foods may temporarily cause bad breath. Raw onions, garlic and cabbage produce sulfur containing gasses when they are digested. The sulfur compounds are absorbed into the bloodstream, carried to lungs and are exhaled with breathing. In addition to staining teeth, irritating gum tissue and contributing to oral cancer, the use of tobacco products can also cause bad breath. Medical conditions such as respiratory tract infection, sinusitis, and others, may cause bad breath.
Unfortunately, it may be hard to tell if your own breath smells bad, However, signs you might notice include a sour or metallic taste in your mouth, dry mouth, a white coating on the tongue, extra post-nasal drip or more mucous in the throat. Proper daily brushing and flossing are good ways to reduce bad breath and prevent periodontal disease. Brush your teeth and tongue twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste to remove food particles plaque. Floss should be used once a day to clean between the teeth. You may also want to use a special tongue cleaner. Limit the consumption of foods that cause bad breath. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help produce saliva. Both saliva and water wash away excess food particles. Unfortunately, most conventional mouthwashes do not treat bad breath. They only mask odors temporarily. Some prescription and over the counter mouthwashes can reduce the bacteria level, which can, in turn, reduce odor. Regular visits to your dentist can help detect any problems that may be causing bad breath.