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Bad Breath Stinks!

posted Mar 30, 2014, 8:32 AM by Dr. Elham Khajavi

Bad Breath Stinks


            Bad breath, otherwise known as “Halitosis” is not only a nuisance but can be quite embarrassing!  According to Andrew Spielman, DMD, Phd, associate dean and professor at NYU College, “50% of the adult population has bad breath at one point or another, and just about everyone has it in the morning!”  Unfortunately, many people do not even realize that others are experiencing “their” bad breath!  We purchase endless amounts of gum, mints, mouth rinses and other products designed to fight bad breath, but many of these products are only a temporary fix because they do not address the cause of the problem.  Let’s take a look at some of the common causes of Halitosis.

            Poor oral hygiene is one of the top causes of bad breath.  Bacteria hide out on the tongue which works like Velcro to trap bad odors.  Proper home care, that includes daily brushing (tongue included) and flossing, helps minimize bacteria and reduces the amount of food particles left in the mouth.  Regular dental cleanings to remove plaque and tarter are also a critical part of keeping your mouth healthy; thus less bad breath caused from gum disease.

            Foods we eat are another culprit.  Garlic, onions, spices, some cheeses and fish are all guilty of causing smelly breath.  Most of the time this is short term, as long as the residue from these foods is properly brushed and flossed away.  The amount of saliva we produce also affects our breath.  Saliva is a vital part of the digestion process and too little can limit the breakdown of the foods we ingest.   What may be surprising to some is that after you digest these foods, they enter your bloodstream, are carried to your lungs and can again become the cause of bad breath! 

            Medical disorders are also linked to Halitosis.  Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, lactose intolerance and GERD (acid reflux) may affect our breath.  Respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis play a role too.  Certain prescription medications, over the counter medications and some vitamin supplements including fish oil can also contribute to this annoying problem.  Many of these have a tendency to cause dry mouth, and as stated before saliva is vital to the cleansing of the mouth.

            Lastly, tobacco products cause havoc with our breath.  Not only are these products unhealthful to the tissues of the oral cavity and leave stains on our teeth, they also leave a chemical residue that significantly alters the smell of our breath.

            Bottom-line, we all experience bad breath at one time or another.  Being aware of its causes and the steps that can be taken to reduce its symptoms is a step in the right direction for fresh breath.