If you occasionally have bad breath,
sometimes called halitosis, you’re not alone. Some studies show that
fifty percent of adults have had bad breath at some point in their lives.
There are a number of possible causes ranging from the harmless to the serious. And
what would you guess is a major cause of bad breath? No it’s not garlic, although that
definitely doesn’t help. It’s actually oral Microflora. While
flora might sound rosy, it’s actually hundreds of types of bacteria that are
naturally found in your mouth. And it definitely doesn’t smell rosey. Your
warm moist mouth works as a perfect hothouse for bacteria to grow. After you
eat, that bacteria goes to work consuming food particles left in your mouth and
secreting waste known as volatile sulfur compounds. It’s these compounds which
smells like rotten eggs that cause bad breath. Over-the-counter mouthwashes can
help kill bacteria or neutralize and temporarily mask bad smelly compounds.
The longer you wait to remove those food particles by brushing and flossing, the
more likely your breath will offend. Most of the bacteria that cause bad breath
are found on the back of your tongue. Stick out your tongue and look way in
the back you’ll probably see a white or brownish coating — that’s where most of
the bad breath bacteria hangout. So when you brush twice a day remember to brush your tongue to get rid
of it. You can also use a tongue scraper like
this one. Studies have shown that tongue brushing reduces bad breath measurements
by seventy percent. If you wear removable dentures take them out at night and be
sure to clean them thoroughly before using them again the next morning.
Another cause of bad breath is dry mouth. Your saliva works around the clock to
wash out your mouth, so if you don’t have enough saliva, your mouth isn’t getting
cleaned enough. This can be caused by various
medications, salivary gland problems or simply by breathing through your mouth. You might try sugar-free gum or sucking
on sugar-free candies to help generate more saliva or your dentist may
recommend artificial saliva. Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
can also be a warning sign of advanced gum disease which is caused by plaque.
Your dentist can help bring your gums back to a healthy state. Now, if your
dentist rules out the causes mentioned here and you brush and floss your teeth
everyday, bad breath may be the result of another health problem such as a sinus
condition, diabetes, liver or kidney disease, in which case you would want to see your
family doctor. If you have any questions be sure to ask your dentist. For the ADA
science inside, I’m Dr. Jane Gillette.