Bad Breath

Written by Patricia Tunstall
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Bad breath is one of the most common complaints dentists hear from their patients, and rightly so, since it directly and immediately affects other people. Spouses, children, lovers, co-workers and bosses--if they can't stand to be near you, your breath is jeopardizing an important relationship. Chronic halitosis may indicate a serious illness that needs medical attention, but, in fact, most bad breath starts in the mouth.

We all know that eating certain foods, such as garlic and onions, will give us halitosis for a while. These foods do not just taint your mouth, but are absorbed into the bloodstream. When you exhale, you cannot keep from expelling the odor from these foods until your body has eliminated them. Another cause of halitosis is the use of tobacco products, which do more damage than causing halitosis. Tooth discoloration, lung damage, and other serious illnesses are the result of indulging in tobacco.

Saliva and Bad Breath

Some causes of halitosis are obvious: alcohol, tobacco, and foods. We all suffer morning breath to one degree or another. One cause may not be thought of by the general public, however, and that is dry mouth (xerostomia). This, in turn, may be the result of a lack of fluid intake, sleeping with your mouth open, or a medical condition that impedes the flow of saliva.

Saliva, or spit, is essential to the health of your mouth. It contributes to your oral hygiene by cleansing your mouth and removing food particles whose decay will cause bad breath. This fluid is critical to digestion, as it starts to break down starches even before you swallow them. If your mouth seems dry, and you develop halitosis, talk to your dentist about remedies and dental care products that might rectify this condition.

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