Did you know that halitosis is the formal name for what most of us refer to as “bad breath”? Most, if not all of us, can relate to an occasional (and hopefully unintentional) case of bad breath, either from ourselves or someone that we come across.
There is no question that bad breath stinks (literally), but besides a flash of embarrassment and a sting to one’s ego, what else could it mean for our health?
As is widely assumed in most cases of bad breath, halitosis can occur as a result of improper or irregular brushing and flossing. Food particles missed while brushing and flossing can drive the unwelcome odor. What’s more, plaque (i.e. bacteria) will form in a colorless, sticky coating over teeth, further perpetuating halitosis.
Also, keep in mind that some foods cause more of a stench than others. Garlic, onions, and spices (to name a few) require more dental hygiene attention. This is because, once digested, foods such as these enter our bloodstreams and into our lungs, resulting in bad breath.
But wait, there is more. Poor dental hygiene and select foods are not the only sources of bad breath.
Do you take medications? Note that some medications can cause bad breath and others can indirectly cause this by contributing to dry mouth. When broken down in the body, some medications release chemicals that can find their way into our breath. For good measure, be sure to read the side effects listed on your prescribed medication, so that you can be aware if bad breath is one of them.
How about xerostomia? Did you know this can contribute to halitosis? That’s right—Dry mouth (also known as xerostomia) can cause bad breath because this condition decreases saliva production. Saliva is a natural combatant for bad breath, as this helps to clean our mouths. Similarly, dry mouth occurs while we sleep and thus, we wake up with morning breath.
We cannot rely on saliva alone to prevent bad breath. Forming good dental hygiene habits will greatly aid you in your fight against halitosis. So, brush and floss daily. Also, be conscious of what is entering your mouth and how it will affect your breath.
Other mouth, nose, and throat conditions, as well as certain disease can cause bad breath to occur. If you experience persistent bad breath, see your dentist who can help to determine if there is something more serious or urgent that may need to be addressed.
For these tips and more information on bad breath, visit Mayo Clinic and contact our office with any questions.