May 28, 2023

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Anyone who bites into a big chunk of garlic bread knows that less-than-fresh breath is a likely outcome of such an indulgence. But for some people, halitosis, otherwise known as bad breath, is something they regularly confront regardless of what they eat.
Functional dentist Dr. Steven Lin indicates around 50 million people suffer from chronic bad breath. Halitosis often is a highly preventable condition, provided an individual can discover the root of the issue, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
It’s important to note that while halitosis may be an oral condition, it also may be indicative of other health problems. That’s why it is vital to determine what’s behind bad breath. Here are some possible causes:
• Poor oral hygiene: Bacteria reside in the mouth on the teeth, tongue and other tissues. Failing to floss and brush regularly may lead to increased bacteria growth, resulting in bad breath. Poor oral hygiene may lead to gum diseases, such as gingivitis and periodontitis, which also can exacerbate bad breath.
• Dry mouth: When dry mouth, or xerostomia, occurs, salivary glands cannot make enough saliva to keep the mouth moist, states Harvard Health. Saliva helps flush away bacteria and food particles. Without saliva to wash them away, bacteria and debris can start to break down, leading to odor. Certain medications may cause dry mouth. Chewing sugar-free gum and using dry mouth aids can help moisten the mouth.
• Food: Certain foods are linked to bad breath. Notably, garlic, onions and some spices are absorbed into the bloodstream and have the potential to affect breath until they leave the system.
• Dirty dentures: False teeth, such as dentures and bridges, can collect bacteria, food and fungi if not properly cleaned. Improper cleaning can contribute to bad breath.
• Tobacco products: Tobacco can cause unpleasant mouth odors, says the Mayo Clinic. Smokers and oral tobacco users also are likely to have gum disease, which contributes to bad breath.
• Sleeping with mouth open: Like other causes of dry mouth, sleeping with one’s mouth open dries out the mouth and can lead to what’s often referred to as “morning breath.”
• Sinus illnesses or infections: Small stones covered in bacteria can form in the tonsils and produce odor. Infections, chronic inflammation of the nose, throat or sinuses can contribute to postnasal drip, which also causes bad breath.
Anyone with concerns about chronic bad breath should speak to his or her dentist about their condition. If the cause cannot be traced to oral hygiene, an individual may be referred to a general physician for a physical to rule out other issues.
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