Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How Are Bad Breath and Dental Health Related?

Poor dental health can cause a variety of conditions ranging from mild to severe. Bad breath, called halitosis in medical circles, is one of the most common results. Unhealthy habits and diet can make halitosis even worse and this condition can indicate other health issues. Do not ignore bad breath because it may be the result of much more than a meal featuring pungent odors.

The mouth is the place where all food consumed begins to break down. The food is digested and the bloodstream absorbs it, carrying it to the lungs so it can be emitted during breathing. When foods with strong odors are consumed, the smell is only temporarily masked by flossing, brushing, and mouthwash. The odor will remain until the food has passed through the body.

People who do not floss and brush daily make the condition worse because they allow food particles to remain in the mouth, which promotes bacterial growth on the tongue, gums, and between teeth. As bacteria flourish, halitosis develops, but an antibacterial mouth rinse can help address the issue if used regularly. Other situations that may cause bad breath include chewing tobacco products and smoking. These habits can also irritate gums, stain teeth, and reduce the ability to taste food.

Halitosis is associated with numerous health problems. If it is persistent, it may indicate gum disease, a condition caused by plaque buildup on teeth. Untreated gum disease can damage both the gums and the jawbone. Yeast infections within the mouth may also cause this problem. Dental appliances that fit poorly or are not cleaned properly could lead to halitosis. Dry mouth, which is actually a medical condition, can cause bad breath because the lack of saliva prevents dead cells from being washed off the tongue.

Halitosis can also be caused by more severe illnesses and diseases including bronchitis, pneumonia, diabetes, kidney or liver issues, and respiratory tract infections. A dentist can treat many causes of bad breath. However, the patient may be referred to a physician if a non-dental medical condition is causing the condition.

Practicing good oral hygiene, visiting the dentist regularly, drinking sufficient amounts of water, and remaining aware of foods consumed can help prevent or reduce bad breath. Patients should discuss their diets and how to quit smoking or chewing tobacco products to prevent it. They should also consider using an antiseptic mouth rinse that will kill germs causing this condition.

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