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People are terribly embarrassed by bad breath, and it may indicate an oral or systemic health problem. Drs. Brandon Brunner, Eric Taibl, Suzanne Tack and Kevin McGinn of Elmbrook Family Dental help us understand bad breath, or halitosis, and how to eliminate it.
The reasons behind bad breath
Never ignore bad breath, or halitosis. Besides affecting social interactions, halitosis sometimes indicates oral and systemic health problems.
Your Elmbrook Family Dental team look for signs of tooth decay, abscess, and other oral health issues such as periodontitis and poor tooth alignment. Frequently, conversation between doctor and patient reveals underlying causes for bad breath that are related to lifestyle–things such as:
- Strongly aromatic foods, such as onions, that linger in the lungs and gastrointestinal tract
- Cigarettes, cigars and tobacco
- Coffee and alcohol
- Strict dieting, fasting and poor hydration during and after strenuous exercise
Additionally, carbohydrates, such as bread and pasta, foster oral bacteria. These microbes release Volatile Sulfur Compounds, or VSCs, causing the “rotten egg odor” of halitosis.
Menu changes, smoking cessation and daily hydration relieve this kind of halitosis. What solves bad breath that originates in overall health problems such as diabetes?
Halitosis and health problems are linked
Bad breath can start with chronic or acute health conditions. For instance, poorly controlled diabetes has a unique fruity breath odor. Chronic kidney disease makes breath smell pungent–similar to urine or ammonia. Mucus from sinus infection or pneumonia smells when the patient exhales. GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux, is another cause of bad breath.
Plus, while cancer or Parkinson’s Disease do not cause halitosis, some drugs used to treat them may have that side effect. Certain psychiatric, hypertensive and allergy drugs do, too. Oxygen therapy leads to xerostomia, or dry mouth.
For simple bad breath, lifestyle changes help:
- Limit strong smelling foods, such as onions and garlic, and choose low sugar items.
- Hydrate with at least 8 glasses of water a day (64 ounces in all). Drinking water throughout the day rinses food residues from teeth and gums, stimulates saliva production and moisturizes gums, lips, and other soft oral tissues.
- Brush your teeth twice a day as the American Dental Association recommends. Floss daily to remove sticky Brush your tongue because the rough surface holds onto food residues and germs.
- See your dentist at Elmbrook Family Dental semi-annually for an oral exam and hygienic cleaning.
The dentist may advise over the counter mouthwash for prevention of bad breath. Prescription rinses with zinc chloride fight oral bacteria and the VSGs they give off. Your dentist treats oral health issues and refers patients to their physicians if he or she believes halitosis comes from a health problem such as diabetes.
Pay attention to bad breath prevention
Be proactive about it. Contact Elmbrook Family Dental for a personal consultation. This caring team of professionals will strive to improve your health and breath.