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Bad Breath


What is bad breath?

Almost everyone has bad breath, also known as halitosis, occasionally. It can occur when you wake up in the morning or after eating certain foods, e.g., onions and garlic. Once you uncover the source of the problem, there are several ways that you can keep your mouth free from unpleasant odors, according to the American Dental Hygienists' Association.

SOURCE: American Dental Hygienists' Association

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What causes bad breath?

There are three basic reasons for bad breath. The first is simple: an unclean mouth. If you don't routinely clean your teeth, gums and tongue, plaque—a soft, sticky, almost invisible film made up of harmful bacteria—will build up and eventually cause bad breath. If you wear braces or dentures, you should be especially conscientious about brushing and rinsing after eating.

Second, medical problems can cause fresh breath to go sour. For example, bad breath can be caused by a stomach disorder, a sinus infection with excess postnasal drip, or the way your body chemistry interacts with medications.

Third, daily habits also play a role. For example, smoking or chewing tobacco can affect your breath.

SOURCE: American Dental Hygienists' Association

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What can be done to eliminate bad breath due to a dental condition?

Most plaque can be removed with routine oral hygiene care; that is, by carefully brushing your teeth at least two or three times a day, flossing daily, and vigorously rinsing your mouth to remove food. To control plaque, add routine prophylaxes, more commonly known as cleanings, provided by a registered dental hygienist.

Besides removing plaque from your teeth, the dental hygienist will remove calculus from above and below your gumline, take a medical and dental history, and examine the condition of your mouth, teeth and gums. The dental hygienist also will counsel you about plaque control and develop an at-home oral hygiene program designed specially for your personal oral health care needs.

Meanwhile, dental hygienists recommend more tips to keep your breath fresh.

  • Rinse your mouth with water after eating if you are unable to brush.
  • Chew a piece of sugarless gum to stimulate your saliva flow--nature's own cleanser.
  • Snack on celery, carrots, or apples; they tend to clear away loose food and debris during the chewing process.
  • Eat a balanced diet. A vitamin deficiency may contribute to gum disease and bad breath.
If you are already practicing routine oral hygiene care at home and bad breath persists, ask your dental hygienist for additional advice and new treatment options.

SOURCE: American Dental Hygienists' Association

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