Dr. Hanan A. Elsaie DDS,
one of America’s Top Dentists, Consumers’ Research Council of America, Guide to America’s Top Dentists

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Halitosis - or bad breath

What is bad breath? (halitosis)

Halitosis - or bad breathe is caused by poor oral hygiene, allowing bacteria that thrive on the food particles that decay in your mouth. These substances usually originate from the tongue and gums. The offending odor is the product of a sulfur compound from the decay and debris.

 Halitosis may also be the product of other causes such as medical infection, gum disease, diabetes, kidney failure, or liver malfunction. Dry mouth or Xerostomia also cause halitosis. Cancer patients often experience dry mouth as a byproduct of radiation therapy. Stress, dieting, snoring, age and hormonal changes can have an effect on your breath. Aromatic foods such as onion and garlic also affect a person’s breathe. Coffee and Tobacco also contribute to halitosis.

Saliva is the substance in the mouth that is crucial to keep the odor under control. Saliva washes away these food particles and bacteria that cause halitosis. However, the salivary glands slow down production which is favorable for the reproduction of bacteria. “Morning Breathe” is the product of this cycle. Morning breathe can be remedied by eating breakfast to stimulate your salivary glands, and properly brushing your teeth after.

There are a number of ways to fight halitosis. Among them are:

- Practicing good oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day

- Cleaning your tongue using your toothbrush or a tongue scraper, a plastic tool that scrapes away bacteria that build up on the tongue

- Chewing sugar-free gum also may help control the odor as this induces the secretion of saliva

- If you use dentures, retainers, and the like, be sure to clean them thoroughly before placing them back in your mouth.

- Mouth rinses and deodorizing sprays or tablets should be used only after consulting with your dentist

- Lastly, visiting your dentist regularly enables you to monitor your dental health and detect any problems. This also ensures proper consultation if the need arises