Guide to Halitosis
What Is Halitosis?
Halitosis is a frequently occurring oral condition that is commonly referred to as bad breath. Halitosis is not a serious medical condition; however, it can make a person feel awkward in social situations, cause emotional distress, and lower a person’s self-esteem. Because of halitosis, many people spend enormous amounts of money each year on chewing gum, sprays, and mouthwash. Bad Breath Halitosis affects a majority of people in society and the causes vary as much as the individuals who suffer from this condition.
Halitosis is most commonly caused by consuming certain types of foods. Most often, the foods that come to mind when a person mentions halitosis include onions, garlic, fish, or any foods that are high in fats. As our bodies begin the digestion process, chemicals from these foods are absorbed into the bloodstream where they travel into the lungs and are released into the atmosphere as we breathe. As you breathe out, others breathe in and may smell the unmistakable odor of halitosis. This being said, not all cases of halitosis are caused by food. If a person is on a low calorie diet, decided to skip a meal, or fasts for an extended period of time, halitosis can occur as well. As we sleep, the amount of saliva that is produced in our mouths is decreased, resulting in decay and excess food particles remaining in the oral cavity. This can lead to halitosis, or morning breath, when we awake.
Other Causes of Halitosis
Other causes of halitosis include smoking, alcohol consumption, or not brushing or flossing teeth properly or on a regular basis. Certain medical conditions can also lead to the formation of halitosis. Chronic lung or sinus infections can cause a build-up of bacteria or viruses that contribute to halitosis as can oral infections such as thrush or Candida. Other medical conditions such as diabetes, liver disease, or kidney disorders can also cause halitosis to flare up. Gum diseases and other oral problems can cause bacteria to accumulate in hard to reach crevasses and corners of the teeth and gums will lead to halitosis if proper oral hygiene is not followed.
In some cases, certain medications that are prescribed by a physician can also lead to halitosis. There are many medications that are prescribed for health conditions that cause dry mouth. The same thing occurs while we are sleeping; the salivary glands do not produce ample saliva and therefore, bacteria will grow in the mouth, causing halitosis. Such medications include antidepressants, antihistamines, decongestants, and high blood pressure medications. When you purchase a prescription, most pharmacies will provide patients with an information sheet that lists possible side effects. If dry mouth is one of the side effects listed, then you could counteract the possible development of halitosis by consuming more water when you are taking the medication.
Many people are not even aware that they suffer from halitosis. The simple reason for this is because our bodies become used to our own odor. In other words, we become desensitized to any negative smells that our own bodies may emit. Most people with halitosis or strong body odor will walk around unaware that they are offending those around them. Halitosis is usually a temporary condition but it can also be classified as chronic or persistent halitosis. If this is the case, then consulting a physician can provide you with many treatment options.
It is relatively simple and painless to diagnose halitosis. The first clue is visual; you may notice subtle clues such as others keeping their distance from you or they may come straight out and inform you that you have halitosis. You can also self-diagnose halitosis. The most common method of self-diagnosis is by licking your wrist and then smelling the area after a few seconds. Allow the saliva to dry before smelling your wrist. You could also cup your hand or hands over your mouth and breathe. Asking your friends or family if you have halitosis can also suffice, providing that they are honest enough to tell you the truth without fear of offending you. When you visit your dentist, you can also inquire as to whether or not they believe you suffer from halitosis. Your dentist will probably provide you with the most accurate and unbiased diagnosis.
If you do come to the realization that you have halitosis, there is no need to despair. There are many treatment options available that are simple and cost efficient. One of the most common methods of treating halitosis is through regular use of a mouthwash. A mouthwash is certainly effective in giving a person’s mouth a clean, minty smell, but the downside is that this effect only lasts for a short time. In fact, many mouthwashes contain alcohols and sugars that can actually contribute to oral issues such as tooth decay. This can even initiate halitosis once the minty taste fades out. The same is true with certain gums or breath mints. They serve only to mask halitosis temporarily. Once the flavor is gone, chances are that the halitosis will return.
Because some cases of halitosis are caused by medical conditions, the best way to help eliminate it would be to treat the disease or illness first. Once this medical condition is under control, then the halitosis can be addressed. If the halitosis doesn’t disappear once the medical condition has been treated, then the focus can be directed to applying different methods to combat the bad breath. Even if you follow all of the above precautions and you find that you still have halitosis, the cause may be one that is out of your control. If you regularly take drugs or medications that are prescribed by your doctor, ask them to explain the side effects. You may be experiencing dry mouth as a result, which causes halitosis in some cases. Ask your doctor if there are any alternate medications that you can use to treat your medical condition that will not cause dry mouth. There may also be natural or herbal remedies that you can take to alleviate your symptoms. This way, you can eliminate the contributing factors to halitosis and treat your medical conditions in a safe way.
Perhaps the most effective way to fight halitosis is by performing regular and proper oral hygiene. Dentists recommend that you visit at least once every 6 months for a checkup. During this examination, the dentist will do x-rays, check the condition of your teeth and gums, and perform a total cleaning. If any major problems are present at this time, they will be addressed and corrected. These actions alone can be a major help to stopping halitosis. By being diligent and fastidious when performing oral hygiene rituals, you will find that instances of halitosis will gradual become reduced.
Your dentist will also provide you with several tips to keep halitosis at bay. It is important to brush your teeth at least 3 times a day and floss at least once a day, preferably at bedtime. This will remove any stray food particles that may be stuck between teeth or in the gum area. If these food particles remain as you sleep, they can harbor bacteria, which can lead to halitosis. When you brush your teeth you should pay attention to the tongue as well. Brush it gently with your toothbrush to remove any bacteria or food particles that may be residing there. If you neglect the tongue, halitosis can occur.
While it is true that eating certain foods is the major contributor to halitosis, don’t allow this to make you shy away from eating regularly. Fasting or skipping a meal will also cause halitosis. When you do eat, fibrous or hard to chew foods will help stimulate your salivary glands into producing more saliva. The same concept applies to foods that contain a lot of citric acid. Oranges or lemons also encourage the production of saliva, which will help wash away bacteria and small food particles that lead to halitosis. If you drink a lot of alcohol or coffee, try replacing these beverages with water instead. Like saliva, water keeps your mouth evenly and regularly moist and can help to keep your mouth free of bacteria causing food particles. This will help reduce the chance of developing halitosis.
Halitosis can be an embarrassing and frustrating condition that prevents you from participating in social gatherings or activities where many people are present in small, confined spaces. There is no reason that you should allow halitosis to dictate your life. If you suspect or know that you definitely suffer from halitosis, then you should take one or more of the above steps to help eliminate it and prevent it from occurring again. While it may be impossible to completely alter your dietary habits, there are small changes you can make that will show major improvements in your halitosis. By following the above solutions and preventative measures, you can be more confident and secure in knowing that your breath will not drive anyone away.