Keeping your Breath Fresh?
Hummus with garlic tastes great! So do tuna fish sandwiches and burgers loaded with onions on top Pure joy! However, we know there’s a price to pay by eating certain foods – the potential for bad breath. We enjoy our favorites and then run to brush our teeth, use a mouthwash or grab a piece of gum. Once the remaining offending food particles are washed away and some time has passed, typically the bad breath has resolved. But not always.
Many factors can contribute to frequent occurrences of chronic bad breath, halitosis, some of which are harmless to one’s overall health, others are symptoms of underlying medical issues and some are side effects from certain medications.
Causes of Bad Breath
As stated, on occasion everyone can have less than fresh breath. Foods react to the ever-present bacteria in the oral cavity. Keep eating the foods that are known culprits and the bad=breath remains. Stop eating them and it goes away. While no one wants to offend with bad breath, sometimes those onion rings just call our name. It’s not harmful to our health; it’s merely a ‘social issue’.
When halitosis occurs frequently and it’s not related to food intake, further investigation is necessary to determine the underlying cause or causes. Visit your dentist. The problem could be dental disease. Both cavities and gum disease are known to cause an unpleasant oral odor. The reason? The bacteria that cause bad breath are more difficult to brush or floss away when there are pockets between the teeth and the gum tissue or when a void – a cavity – exits in the tooth’s structure. Restoring the tooth with a filling and/or improving the health of the gums not only removes the dental disease – there’s also the plus of eliminating this as the cause of bad breath.
Saliva, which serves as the mouth’s bathing agent, washes away harmful bacteria. It helps break down our food and protects our teeth. When the amount of saliva production is insufficient, for whatever reason, bad breath is often a result. There are many causes for dry mouth, (xerostomia). Some are easy to identify – smoking, caffeine intake or alcohol consumption. By avoiding, or at least limiting these substances, the saliva production can return to normal levels.
But dry mouth can be a symptom of many medical conditions. While there may be a blockage in the salivary glands, there are many illnesses, seemingly unrelated to the oral cavity, which exhibit symptoms, such as dry mouth, in the mouth. It is important to first determine whether the cause is an undiagnosed medical problem. Allergy and sinus sufferers with a post-nasal drip and patients with gastric reflux find that bad breath is common. Other illnesses, such as diabetes, liver or kidney diseases need to be ruled as well. And, of course, once diagnosed, these conditions need to be treated.
Another cause of dry mouth is medications. Many medications, necessary to help us fight disease, cause is reduction in the body’s production of saliva. They may have a dehydrating effect. The good news is that there are many over-the-counter medications to help eliminate dry mouth. Drs. Hochberg and Diora are happy to offer recommendations and oftentimes have samples on hand for you to try. Not only do these products help increase your comfort level, but also by alleviating the dryness your breath will be fresher.
What is the best way to eliminate bad breath?
Once all medical and dental issues have been addressed and there is nothing left undiagnosed or untreated, there are effective ways to have fresher breath. To begin, be sure that you are following a good home healthcare regimen. Ask your dental hygienist to suggest the best products for you. Then be sure to brush and floss at least twice a day. Keep that timer on! Remember the two-minute rule of 30 seconds per each quadrant of your mouth. Limit your intake of caffeinated drinks; they reduce the production of saliva. Increase water consumption. Chew a sugar-free gum after a meal; the activity increases saliva production while removing much of the remaining food particles until you can brush. Swish a mouthwash; it helps neutralize odors.
The main take away? At some point in time everyone will have an unwelcome occurrence of bad breath. However, if the problem persists it’s important to investigate further. Be sure that it’s not a telltale sign of an underlying dental or medical problem. Visit us a Colony Square Dental Associates; we’re available to evaluate the status of your oral health to ensure that dental decay or periodontal (gum) disease is not the culprit.