What causes bad breath and how can I treat it

2010 September 21
by Asha Sood

Chronic bad breath (halitosis) is a health problem which is suffered by millions of people and it can have a negative effect on personal and social interaction. It is a common problem which can cause extensive embarrassment and shame to the person suffering from it. Often, it can be unpleasant to communicate with people suffering from bad breath which in turn can cause the sufferer to feel isolated and lonely.

Most of us have suffered from bad breath at some point in our lives, but many people manage to successfully control the problem by cleaning their tongues, gargling and/or brushing their teeth. However, for some individuals, the problem can persist despite their regular daily oral hygiene routine leading to embarrassment and isolation.

Some common causes of bad breath are:

Poor oral hygiene: The mouth becomes a breeding ground for many bacteria if proper oral hygiene is not maintained. Bad breath can be more severe in individuals who do not brush their teeth regularly after meals or clean their mouth after eating food and snacks.

Dental flossing between teeth and regular visits to a dental hygienist are recommended as they can help to clean those ‘hard to reach’ areas between the teeth and gums where bacteria and trapped food can harbour, leading to bad breath.

Food habits: One of the major causes of bad breath is the degradation of protein by bacteria, hence many protein rich food products can contribute to bad breath. Milk based products, meat, eggs, fish and cakes are some of the protein foods that can cause bad breath.

Other foods which are often linked to bad breath include garlic and onions.

Smoking and chewing tobacco: Smoking and chewing tobacco are often associated with bad breath.

There is no need to suffer in silence if you are a victim of bad breath(halitosis); there are treatments available to tackle the problem and your dentist or dental hygienist should be able to help you to structure a tailored approach in order to address any underlying causes which may be contributing to your bad breath as well as advise you on the most beneficial treatment options for you.

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