Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Halitosis is Clinically Bad Breath

When brushing your teeth doesn’t get rid of foul-smelling breath, you may have something more serious called halitosis. It’s a dental condition that remains for an extended amount of time and can’t be covered up with a quick fix like mouthwash.

Something else is happening in your body that needs to be addressed. Halitosis is usually a sign of something more serious that requires healthcare advice from your dentist. Your mouth is a very delicate system and can be thrown out of whack by common medications and bacteria.

Medications cause halitosis

There are hundreds of prescription and over-the-counter medications that list xerostomia, more commonly known as dry mouth, as a side effect. Some of the most common are stimulants, antihistamines, decongestants, muscle relaxants and pain medications. Even a common toothpaste ingredient, sodium lauryl sulfate, can irritate tender cheeks and gums and contribute to dry mouth.

You need enough saliva to wash small particles of food off of your teeth to neutralize acids and inhibit cavity formation. The limited production of saliva can leave you with an overly dry, acidic mouth environment which causes bad breath. Dehydration and breathing through your mouth can make it even worse.

Managing xerostomia isn’t just about drinking enough, it’s managing what you drink and when. You’ll need to drink small sips of water throughout the day rather than drinking a full glass of water at a time. Limit how much alcohol, caffeine, and dry food you have, and stay properly hydrated so your saliva can help your mouth stay clean and healthy. 

Chewing stimulates your salivary glands, so pop in some sugar-free gum or sugarless candy after eating and let the increased saliva wash away causes of bad breath. 

Bacteria cause halitosis

When your nose is running, mucus leaks into the back of your mouth and throat. Add in breathing through your mouth from the stuffy nose, and it’s an ideal environment for smelly bacteria. The bacterial growth in the discharge gives you bad breath.

Smoking constricts the blood vessels in your mouth. Without proper blood flow, bacteria starts to grow under the gums and can become infected. The overgrowth of bacteria and the accompanying decay can leave a foul taste in your mouth and result in bad breath.

All surfaces of your mouth — including your tongue and cheeks — can harbor bacteria. Biting your nails introduces more bacteria to the mouth, which can contribute to tooth decay and halitosis.

Dramatic cases of nail-biting can wear away the enamel on teeth and cause bacterial growth under the gums, contributing to bad breath and decay.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies or need help kicking your bad habits, seek advice from nearby dentists. Brush your tongue and cheeks with your standard toothbrush and water, or use a tongue scraper to minimize bacteria. Chew sugar-free gum or sugarless candy that contains xylitol as a sweetener. Research shows that xylitol, a chemical sweetener, stops bacteria from growing in your mouth and is an effective tool for combatting tooth decay.

See your dentist regularly

Your mouth provides clues to your overall health, and your dentist is an important partner in your healthcare. If your dentist doesn’t ask about new medications each time you visit, you won’t have any trouble finding new dentists nearby with a simple web search.

If you’ve battled bad breath for an extended amount of time without making any headway, you may have halitosis. Tell your dentist when you start new medications about any seasonal allergies you may have and discuss habits like smoking and nail-biting that contribute to foul breath.

This is a guest blog entry.

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