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Beat Bad Breath

It’s embarrassing and difficult to even talk about for many, but bad breath, also known as halitosis, is really quite common. In fact, it’s thought that as many as 90 million Americans suffer from chronic bad breath. Unfortunately, while it’s something just about everyone has to deal with at some point, chronic bad breath can hurt relationships and even make getting a new job difficult. So what causes bad breath? Acute halitosis usually occurs when someone ingests a strong or spicy food, which lingers in the mouth. Some spices’ scents, such as garlic or curry, can stick around for days for its unfortunate consumers. This is because these foods are absorbed into your bloodstream, and the scent is excreted through your mouth until it completely leaves your body. Generally, just continuing to wait it out while practicing good dental hygiene (and drinking lots of water!) is the only thing you can do for this type of problem. Chronic bad breath, on the other hand, can be caused by a variety of factors, most of which have little to do with poor oral health or hygiene, although those things can certainly contribute. Failing to brush and floss well and consistently will definitely result in halitosis over time — in fact, that type of bad breath can be a strong indicator of periodontitis. However, many cases of bad breath are the result of other factors, including: - Use of certain medications which dry out the mouth - Undiagnosed health problems such as kidney or liver disease - Clinical dry mouth (xerostomia) - Postnasal drip - Chronic acid reflux - Chronic sinus infections - Oral yeast infections (thrush) - Poorly fitting or cleaned dental devices, such as retainers or dentures - Smoking or other tobacco use Many of the above problems are the direct result of a lack of saliva in the mouth. Saliva neutralizes acids produced by plaque and washes away dead cells that accumulate on the tongue, gums, and cheeks. When these dead cells stick around, they decompose and cause halitosis. Chewing sugar-free gum or breath mints, and making sure to stay fully hydrated can help get rid of bad breath caused by dry mouth. Clinical dry mouth, or xerostomia, can be treated with medications, if home-care measures aren’t effective. Other causes of halitosis may require medical intervention. If it is suspected that a medical condition may be the underlying cause of bad breath, it’s best to seek the advice of a medical professional. Dr. Shannon Norman-Kotre can perform an examination for possible causes, and make a referral to a specialist if needed. Give our Ann Arbor dental office a call today at 734-677-21556 for more information, or to schedule an appointment to be seen.


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