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What causes bad breath and how to treat bad breath

Do you remember running late for appointments and yet spending extra time in the washroom tidying up and gurgling with tap water to get rid of bad breath?

Do you remember going on dates and making the extra effort to swing by the grocery store to stock up on oral mints and fresherners? What made us do all these?

Millions of people suffer embarrassment due to bad breath. The technical name for bad breath is "halitosis." Take a walk down the personal care aisle of any drug or grocery Store and you will find product after product all dealing with this condition.

Before we can discuss how to get rid of bad breath, we need to have an understanding of the causes and symptoms.

An interesting point to note is the fact that dental hygiene was practiced as far back as ancient Greece and Rome. The Greeks used to chew on anise seeds. Anise tastes like licorice. The Romans discovered that chewing on parsley would disguise the smell of alcohol on their breath. They were probably unaware that parsley is high in chlorophyll which turns carbon dioxide into oxygen making it a natural as one of the first breath fresheners.

Everyone has an occasional problem with bad breath which is why Americans spend more than $200 million a year on products to freshen the breath. Pills, mouthwash, breath mints, toothpaste and more comprise this industry.

Our discussion addresses these as well as other more serious sides of the condition. Bad breath that is persistent, consistent and resistant to normal remedies can be symptomatic of a more serious condition. That is what we will discuss in this guide.

WHAT IS BAD BREATH?
Bad breath is the side effect of the action taken by certain bacteria that live in the mouth, the tongue and the tonsils. The fact is that we all have these bacteria in our mouth. These bacteria pretty much remain dormant until some action in their environment causes them to change.

Because they are anaerobic and sulfur producing, when they react to these changes they produce chemicals compounds. Some of these compounds smell and taste terrible like hydrogen sulfide which smells like rotten eggs and other compounds. We will discuss some of these odors and possible relative odors further on.

WHAT CAUSES BAD BREATH?
Before we begin to explore the remedies for getting rid of bad breath, we need to have a thorough understanding of the causes and symptoms. Some of the causes (but not all) that can replace normal breath are:

Abscessed tooth.
Infection of the tissue surrounding a tooth that usually fills with pus which has a very smelly odor.

Alcoholism.
Immoderate use of alcohol causes decreased production of saliva causing dryness of the mouth. Dry mouth is a leading cause of bad breath.

Atrophic rhinitis.
This is an inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane usually a result of nasal drip due to colds or sinusitis.

Cancers.
Cancers such as esophageal, pharyngeal, oral tumors, leukemia, pulmonary and stomach cancer all present severe bad breath due to the decay that is taking place. Additionally, the medical treatments for these cancers can exacerbate the bad breath.

Oral Candida.
This is a fungal infection of the mouth cavity. Also known as thrush, it is fairly common among infants, diabetics, chemotherapy patients and people with HIV or AIDS.

Cavities.
These holes in the outer two layers of a tooth contain decay which in turn produces bad breath.

Dentures.
Dentures are prosthetic replacements for natural teeth and are just as susceptible to the build up of plaque which causes bad breath. Denture wearers also have a tendency toward dry mouth which also increases the risk of bad breath.

Diabetes.
People who have diabetes may also have bad breath. This occurs because of poor control of blood sugar, the problem with most diabetics. Gum disease is a problem for diabetics. And, diabetes is a problem for people with gum disease.

It can be difficult to determine which comes first, the diabetes or the gum disease, but the underlying problem is clear. High blood sugar contributes to gum disease. Diabetics have trouble controlling the high blood sugar. Gum disease is a leading cause of bad breath, hence the correlation.

The American Dental Association reports that people with type 1 diabetes 5 are at greater risk for gingivitis.

Drugs.
Certain drugs such as antihistamines, antidepressants, blood pressure meds, steroids, cancer therapy drugs, diuretics and oral contraceptives are all known to increase the propensity for bad breath as well as an increased risk for gum disease.

Dry mouth.
Sounds like such an innocuous little phrase, doesn’t it? Thought to be a leading cause of bad breath, dry mouth occurs when saliva production is reduced and carries its own nasty little package of problems.

The medical term for dry mouth is “xerostomia” (pronounced ZEER-oh-STOH-mee-ah). Saliva performs vital work in your body. It aids in digestion by using the enzymes to help break up different foods and also makes it easier to talk.

You may not realize that it can also help to prevent tooth decay by rinsing away food particles from between the teeth as well as the gums. Saliva also helps you taste the food you eat and makes it easier for you to swallow that food. It is also known for neutralizing any damaging acids.

It is believed to be caused primarily by certain medications which we listed in the previous paragraph. The symptoms of dry mouth can include:
• Dry, rough tongue
• Poor sense of taste
• Burning sensation in your mouth
• Increased plaque
• Reduced saliva production

Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS and stroke are also attributed to causing dry mouth as well as pregnancy and/or hormonal changes due to menopause.

Increasing fluid intake can help to re-hydrate the mouth. It’s important to keep it moist so you don’t lose all the benefits provided by saliva production.

Now that we know the causes of bad breath, it's also a good time to know how we can prevent as well as treat bad breath.

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DISCLAIMER: Information on this website is not presented by a medical practitioner and is for educational and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

 
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