Halitosis, more commonly known as bad breath, affects everyone at one time or another. It is an embarrassing and unpleasant condition that you may or may not know you have. What is a person to do about bad breath?
Watch what you eat
Garlic, onions, cheese, orange juice, and soda are just a few of the culprits that cause halitosis. When these foods are absorbed into the bloodstream, odors are transmitted to the lungs, where they are forced out of the body. These odors can only be masked temporarily by brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash.
Practice good oral hygiene
Poor oral hygiene leads to bad breath. When food particles are left in the mouth, the pieces of food may rot and start to smell. By not brushing your teeth and flossing regularly, you allow plaque (a sticky, colorless film) to build up on your teeth. Bacteria assist in the growth of plaque, also producing odor.
“Proper brushing means brushing several minutes every time, making sure to stroke properly, massage the gums, and get everywhere,” says Dr. Mark Thomas, division chief and graduate program director, Periodontics, University of Kentucky College of Dentistry. “Flossing and regular visits to the dentist are of key importance in combating halitosis and maintaining good oral health.”
Visiting your dentist on a regular basis allows many benefits. Your teeth receive a thorough cleaning and the dentist looks around your mouth for any potential problems, including those that can affect breath. A prime example of a problem your dentist may find is gum disease, or periodontal disease, which causes damage to your teeth and is also a factor in halitosis.
Don’t use tobacco
Smoking and use of tobacco products are not only a major cause of cancer and heart disease, but are also causes of halitosis. In addition to making the breath smell “like an ashtray,” smoking also reduces the flow of saliva and further exacerbates the odor.
“Smoking can have a detrimental effect on the teeth and gums,” says Thomas.
Look for warning signs
Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth may be a warning sign of periodontal (or gum) disease.
Kentucky has the highest rate of edentulism—total loss of teeth—in the United States, resulting from periodontal disease and/or tooth decay. Poor oral health poses other threats as well. When bacteria in the mouth or toxins from the bacteria get into the blood, they can increase the risk for general health problems such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and perhaps contribute to pre-term birth and low-weight infants—situations that may lead to long-term health problems for the child.
For more information about treatment of halitosis or good oral hygiene, call the UK Dental Clinic at (859) 257-1000.