Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Whether you call it bad breath or halitosis, it's an unpleasant condition that's cause for embarrassment. Some people with bad breath aren't even aware there's a problem. If you're concerned about bad breath, see your dentist. He or she can help identify the cause and, if it's due to an oral condition, develop a treatment plan to help eliminate it.Bad Breath is usually caused by the breakdown of proteins by bacteria somewhere in the mouth. Bad breath is not contagious, meaning you cannot catch it from someone else. Chronic bad breath, known as Halitosis, does not come from the stomach. The only odor that comes from the stomach is when you burp. Food eaten such as garlic and spicy foods once absorbed into the body can release odor through the lungs when you breathe. Food odors are transitory and should not be confused with bad breath. Human's sense of smell has the ability to adjust to odor. Therefore, most people with halitosis are not aware of their bad breath.
How can you tell if you have halitosis?
If our noses can't reliably help us judge the quality of our own breath, how can we determine if we do have bad breath? One solution is to ask the opinion of a spouse or significant other. In lieu of the availability of these individuals you might ask a friend or else your dentist or hygienist at your next dental appointment. If you find this type of question too personal to ask an adult don't overlook asking a child. As we all know, sometimes the least inhibited and most honest responses come from children.
Other symptoms depend on the underlying cause of bad breath:
* Poor dental hygiene — Teeth are coated with film or plaque. You may have food trapped between the teeth and pale or swollen gums.
* Infections in the mouth — Symptoms depend on the type of infection. They can include:
o Red or swollen gums that may bleed easily, especially after brushing or flossing
o Pus between teeth or a pocket of pus (abscess) at the base of a tooth
o Loose teeth or a change in how a denture fits
o Painful, open sores on the tongue or gums
* Respiratory tract infections — Sore throat, swollen lymph nodes ("swollen glands") in the neck, fever, stuffy nose, a greenish or yellowish nasal discharge, a mucus-producing cough
What Causes Bad Breath?
Here are three common causes of bad breath:
* foods and drinks, such as garlic, onions, cheese, orange juice, and soda
* poor dental hygiene (say: hi-jeen), meaning you don't brush and floss as you should
* smoking and other tobacco use
Poor oral hygiene leads to bad breath because when you leave food particles in your mouth, these pieces of food can rot and start to smell. The food particles may begin to collect bacteria, which can be smelly, too. Plus, by not brushing your teeth regularly, plaque (a sticky, colorless film) builds up on your teeth. Plaque is a great place for bacteria to live and yet another reason why breath can turn foul.
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