YOUR MOUTH and Bad Breath
Halitosis, colloquially called bad breath, or feter oris, is a symptom in which a noticeably unpleasant odor is present on the exhaled breath. Concern about halitosis is estimated to be the third most frequent reason for people to seek dental care, following tooth decay and gum disease; and about 20% of the general population are reported to suffer from it to some degree.
Not all who think they have halitosis have a genuine problem. Of those who feel they have halitosis, significant percentages (5‑72%) have been reported to have no genuine halitosis when professionally examined. Of those who have genuine halitosis, often the odor is caused by bacteria present below the gumline and on the back of the tongue. The remaining 10% is accounted for by many different conditions, including disorders in the nasal cavity, sinuses, throat, lungs,esophagus, stomach or elsewhere. See the related article on tonsilloliths for another possible cause of halitosis.
Very rarely, halitosis can be one of many symptoms of a serious underlying medical condition such as liver failure; but, in the vast majority of cases, the cause is minor and can often be reduced by adjustments to oral hygiene, including brushing or gently scraping the back of the tongue and improving the health of the gums by using dental floss. Occasionally, however, especially if the origin of the odor is not in the mouth, halitosis can be more difficult to diagnose and to manage successfully. Bad breath is a social taboo; and, as a result, perceived or genuine halitosis can sometimes trigger social anxiety and depression.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
What You Can Do About Bad Breath
By Peter Jaret
Reviewed By Michael Friedman, DDS
It's easy to improve your breath and keep your teeth and gums healthy at the same time. Try these simple steps to make your mouth feel fresh and clean.
1. Brush and floss more often.
Plaque, the sticky buildup on your teeth, collect bacteria that cause bad breath. Trapped food also adds to the problem.
Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day. If you're concerned about your breath, do it a little more often.
Don't overdo things, though. If you brush too hard you can wear down your teeth, making them vulnerable to decay.
2. Scrape your tongue.
The coating that normally forms on your tongue can be a host for smelly bacteria. To get rid of them, gently brush it with your toothbrush.
If it's too big to comfortably reach the back of your tongue, try a scraper. "They're designed specifically to apply even pressure across the surface of the tongue area, removing bacteria, food debris, and dead cells that brushing alone can't remove," says hygienist Pamela L. Quinones, past president of the American Dental Hygienists' Association.
3. Avoid foods that sour your breath.
Onions and garlic are big offenders. But brushing after you eat them doesn't help.
The substances that cause their bad smells make their way into your bloodstream and travel to your lungs, where you breathe them out, says dentist Richard Price, DMD, a spokesman for the American Dental Association.
The best way to stop the problem? Don't eat them, or at least avoid them before you go to work or see friends.
4. Kick the tobacco habit.
Besides causing cancer, smoking can damage your gums, stain your teeth, and give you bad breath.
Over-the-counter nicotine patches can help tame the urge. If you need a little help, make an appointment with your doctor to talk about quit-smoking programs or prescription medications that can help you give up tobacco for good.
5. Rinse your mouth out.Besides freshening your breath, mouthwashes add extra protection by getting rid of bacteria that can cause bad breath. Choose one that kills germs.
You can also help your breath if you swish your mouth with plain water after you eat. It can get rid of food particles that get stuck in your teeth.
6. Skip after-dinner mints and chew gum instead.
The bacteria in your mouth love sugar. They use it to make acid. This wears down your teeth and causes bad breath. Chew sugarless gum instead.
"Gum stimulates saliva, which is the mouth's natural defense mechanism against plaque acids, which cause tooth decay and bad breath," Quinones says.
7. Keep your gums healthy.
Gum disease causes bad breath. Bacteria gather in pockets at the base of teeth, which creates an odor.
If you have gum disease, your dentist may suggest you see a periodontist, who specializes in treating it.
8. Moisten your mouth.
You can get tooth decay and bad breath if you don't make enough saliva. If your mouth is dry, drink plenty of water during the day.
Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugar-free hard candy. Also try a humidifier at night to moisten the air in your house.
9. See your doctor.
If your bad breath continues despite your best efforts, make an appointment with your doctor. He'll check to see if your problems are related to a medical condition.