Bad Breath (Halitosis)
It’s the embarrassing condition that has many of us reaching for the chewing gum, or, if you’re a 1980s sitcom actor that is about to go on his first date, the breath spray. Halitosis, or bad breath as it’s more simply known, is a condition that almost everyone has experienced to some degree, whether it’s only the morning after a particularly raucous night, or, like 25% of the public, in a more chronic fashion. Behind tooth decay and gum disease, it is the most frequent reason for people to seek dental care.
The awkwardness and social embarrassment felt by those who suffer from halitosis can be difficult to deal with. For those living with the condition, prevention or cure is hugely important. But, before we can go about curing it, we first need to know what causes it. So, what can we point a judgemental finger at?
While halitosis – in very rare cases – can be a symptom of a greater underlying health problem, such as liver failure, it’s more commonly got to do with simple mouth hygiene. A build-up of bacteria in the mouth can be a major cause of bad breath, and it could be as simple as adding tongue scraping and flossing to your oral hygiene routine. The most common cause, however, is one’s diet.
You Get out What You Put In
As that high school sports coach never got tired of telling you, you get out what you put in. When it comes to halitosis, if you put particularly pungent things in your mouth, you’re going to get particularly pungent breath coming out.
It’s obvious. If you decide to have an intensely garlic- or onion-heavy dish, you’re going to be the proud owner of some punchy breath. And usually for quite a while. Meat, fish and cheese are also commonly cited bad breath offenders, purely down to their natural odourousness.
The other common cause is alcohol. Many a Sunday morning is punctuated by what people simply refer to as ‘morning breath’. Alcohol itself can cause bad breath (you can often smell an alcoholic before you see them), but bad breath can go into overdrive when it’s time to hit the hay.
Alcohol dries out the mouth. The more you have, the drier your mouth. As it happens, bacteria love a dry mouth. With the saliva that usually serves to suppress mouth-borne bacteria gone, it becomes a free-for-all in there. And if you pass out in bed halfway through a pizza, and without brushing your teeth? Well, your party-time might be over, but your mouth bacteria’s night has just started.
Some lesser known halitosis harbingers, however, may surprise you.
Peanut butter, as much as a vice for adults as it is for kids, can be the cause of diabolically bad breath. For those of us who choose to eat the crunchy paste by the spoonful, an exhaustive oral hygiene approach may be in order.
Milk, seen by many as an antidote to bad breath, is actually often an originator. Milk is easily digested by microbes in the mouth, who just-as-quickly turn it into waste. This can be exacerbated if the person has some degree of lactose intolerance.
The Simple Solutions
Thankfully, there are a few simple ways that you can minimise the effects of bad breath.
If you’re going to be diving into a garlic and onion riddled Italian meal, followed by some post-dinner beers, perhaps chew some gum in between eating and drinking, and try to keep hydrated by spacing your alcoholic beverages with water.
As I’ve already mentioned, oral hygiene plays a massive part. Regular brushing, flossing and tongue scraping are key. Ensuring that you regularly visit your dentist is also vitally important. They’ll not only give you honest advice on your halitosis situation, but are best placed to help you with it.
By taking the proper precautions, and by having good hygiene routines in place, you may not even need to bring out the breath spray on your next 80s sitcom date!
Need some advice? Need a check up? Give those teeth the love they need. Contact Dr Nobrega’s office on 07 5456 1144 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org