You can breathe easier concerning bad breath | TahoeDailyTribune.com

You can breathe easier concerning bad breath

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Many things may contribute to halitosis, or bad breath. Some causes may signal serious underlying health conditions.

Digging into a bowl of pasta topped with a garlicky scampi sauce certainly may fill the belly, but such a meal also can lead to bad breath.

Halitosis, or bad breath, is often the catalyst for jokes. But for many people, bad breath is no laughing matter. Many things may contribute to bad breath, and some causes may signal serious underlying health conditions.

Strong foods

Foods with strong odors, such as onions or garlic, tend to contribute to bad breath. That's because the foods are initially broken down in the mouth, but then they have to travel through the digestive system until they are passed through the body. These odoriferous foods may leave their mark in the mouth, get carried to the lungs through blood in the circulator system and then be excreted through the pores on the body. Some may even linger on the skin after washing. Avoiding these types of foods can prevent bad breath, as brushing or rinsing one's mouth may only temporarily staunch their power.

Poor oral hygiene

Food and beverage particles can linger on the teeth and gums if proper dental hygiene is not practiced. The Mayo Clinic says that a colorless, sticky film of bacteria can form from the breaking down of food particles, which can cause tooth decay, periodontal disease and possibly bad breath. Daily brushing and flossing as well as routine dental cleanings are necessary components of proper oral hygiene.

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Dehydration

Failure to drink enough water can cause food — and the bacteria that feed on it — to stay in the mouth much longer. Drinking water helps flush away food particles. Similarly, dry mouth can contribute to bad breath. Saliva works all day and night to wash out the mouth. The American Dental Association says inadequate saliva production can cause bacteria to multiply.

Sore throat disease

Diseases of the throat, such as strep or tonsillitis, may cause bad breath. The same bacteria that can cause halitosis may also infect the tonsils and throat, causing the foul aromas, advises the American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery.

Gastrointestinal distress

The Journal of Medical Microbiology says that bad breath may originate in the gut. Bad breath may be a symptom of gastrointestinal reflux disease, or GERD, ulcers or other conditions of the stomach and intestines. If persistent bad breath is accompanied by heartburn and stomach pain, it's worth a consult with a doctor.

Oral infections

Surgical wounds from oral procedures like tooth extractions can become infected and produce bad breath. Gum disease and mouth sores also may be to blame. A dentist or doctor can rule out infections as a cause for halitosis.

Tobacco

Smokers and oral tobacco users often have bad breath. Quitting smoking or oral tobacco can be an easy way to freshen up one's breath.

Disease

The gases that are excreted through the mouth and causing bad breath may be tied to everything from liver and kidney damage to diabetes to asthma, say researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Bad breath is more than just a nuisance. In fact, bad breath may indicate the presence of a serious health problem.