Bad breath

Bad breath, sometimes called halitosis, is an unpleasant odor of the breath.It is likely to be experienced by most adults at least occasionally. Bad breath, either real or imagined, can have a significant impact on a person's social and professional life.

Bad breath can be caused by a number of problems. Oral diseases, fermentationof food particles in the mouth, sinus infections, and unclean dentures can all contribute to mouth odor. Many non-oral diseases, such as lung infections,kidney failure, or severe liver disease, can also cause bad breath, althoughthis is rare.

Many people think that bad breath originates in the stomach or intestines. This rarely happens. The esophagus is usually closed, and, although a belch maycarry odor up from the stomach, the chance of bad breath being caused from air continually escaping from the stomach is remote. Cigarette smoke can causebad breath, not only in the cigarette smoker, but also in one who is constantly exposed to second-hand smoke.

The easiest way to determine if one has bad breath is to ask someone who is trustworthy and discrete. Another, more private, method of determining if onehas bad breath is to lick one's wrist, wait until it dries, then smell the area. Scraping the rear area of the tongue with a plastic spoon, then smellingthe spoon, is another method one can use to assess bad breath.

The most effective treatment for bad breath is to treat the cause. Poor oralhygiene can be improved by regular brushing and flossing, as well as regulardental checkups. Gentle brushing of the tongue should be part of daily oral hygiene. In addition to good oral hygiene, the use of mouthwash is helpful.

Mouth dryness, experienced at night or during fasting, or due to certain medications and medical conditions, can contribute to bad breath. Dryness can beavoided by drinking adequate amounts of water. Chewing gum may be beneficial.

Some medications, such as some high blood pressure medications, can cause drymouth, increasing the opportunity to develop bad breath. If this problem issignificant, a medication change, under the supervision of one's health careprovider, may improve the dry-mouth condition. Oral or sinus infections, oncediagnosed, can be treated medically, usually with antibiotics. Lung infections and kidney or liver problems will, of course, need medical treatment. Treating the underlying cause will eliminated the problem of bad breath.

Depending on the cause, a multitude of alternative therapeutic remedies can be used. For example, sinusitis can be treated with steam inhalation of essential oils and/or herbs.

Most bad breath can be treated successfully with good oral hygiene and/or medical care. Occasionally, for patients who feel that these therapies are unsuccessful, some delusional or obsessive behavior pattern might pertain, and mental health counseling may be appropriate.

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