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Bad Breath: The Causes And Solutions
Nothing can screw up a date, a business lunch or just a mundane social interaction like bad breath. It’s unpleasant enough to experience it from someone else, but sharing your own stinky breath with someone else is one of the worst faux pas you can commit.
But what causes bad breath, and how do you get rid of it? Most people will simply say to take a breath mint and be done with it, but for many people, it’s not that easy. Chronic bad breath, or halitosis, can cause social problems for those who just can’t seem to rid of it. It can also be a sign of more serious health problems. In this article, we’ll explore what causes halitosis and similar conditions and how you can rid yourself of bad breath.
What Are the Primary Causes of Bad Breath?
This should be obvious. If you ate a big sandwich with sausage and peppers, you’re going to pay the price for it later. Even foods that are very healthy, like garlic, can produce bad breath. Other foods that can cause bad breath include onions and coffee.
- Dental hygiene (or lack thereof). If you do not brush your teeth and floss regularly, particles of food can become lodged between your teeth and in your gums. Over time, they will begin to decay and form plaque, a clear film of bacteria on your teeth, and produce a bad odor. Plaque also contributes to cavities. Bacteria can also accumulate on the tongue and cause bad breath.
- Infections and diseases of the mouth, nose and throat. Foul breath isn’t necessarily a disease per se, but it can be a symptom of a variety of illnesses. Chronic inflammation in the nasal passages, sinuses and throat can cause postnasal drip, which can contribute to bad breath. Gastroesophageal reflux disease can also be a factor.
- Other diseases and deficiencies. Certain types of cancers and metabolic disorders can sometimes give the breath an unpleasant aroma. Bad breath can also sometimes be caused by zinc deficiency, as well simply not getting enough water.
- Another more serious condition which can cause halitosis is diabetic ketoacidosis. In this condition, a person with diabetes is unable to produce enough insulin to break down sugars into energy, so the body begins burning fat instead. This process produces excessive amounts of blood acids called ketones, which can be poisonous at high levels. A side effect of this is breath with a fruity scent. Diabetic ketoacidosis is more common in people with type 1 diabetes, but it can sometimes occur in individuals with type 2 as well.
- Use of tobacco products. It is common knowledge that cigarette smokers are more prone to bad breath, but almost any kind of tobacco product can cause it as well. Cigars, pipes and hookahs, as well as chewing tobacco and dip, are major offenders.
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Is There a Cure for Halitosis?
Yes, but it depends on what is causing it. You must first determine whether it is lifestyle choices like tobacco use and diet or an actual disease that is causing the bad breath. Let’s start by addressing the former.
The most obvious way to get rid of bad breath is to simply overpower it with a less offensive scent like mint. Taking a breath mint or chewing some gum is a good quick fix solution.
Proper dental hygiene will also go a long way towards eliminating bad breath. Brush thoroughly and regularly, and floss to get rid of pieces of food lodged between the teeth and in the gums. Using mouthwash is a good option, and a tongue scraper will help get rid of bacteria accumulation on the tongue.
If you use tobacco products, seriously consider discontinuing their use. There are many health reasons to do this besides just foul breath, but better breath might be the most immediate and noticeable side effect.
Think about your diet: Do you regularly consume foods or beverages that are going to give you bad breath afterwards? You may want to lessen your intake of those particular items, or at least plan ahead and take some mints following your meal.
In the vast majority of cases, bad breath is simply caused by not brushing, or eating certain foods. If, however, you’ve taken all the above steps and halitosis is still a problem for you, there may be a more serious condition causing it.Speak to your doctor about the problem, and he or she will help you find the right solution based on the medical condition that is causing it.