Mar 292012
 


This is a guest post by DPAS – expert providers of private dental plans for dental practices. For more information on dental plans and oral hygiene, please visit the DPAS website.

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Bad breath is medically known as halitosis. It often results from poor dental hygiene practices, although other health issues can also lead to bad breath. The condition is often exacerbated by unhygienic lifestyles and some types of food. Good oral hygiene is usually the first step in improving dental health and getting rid of bad breath. It can be quite helpful to have private dental plans which will cover costs for regular dental hygiene check ups to help keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Causes

This condition can be caused by a variety of factors ranging from poor eating and hygiene practices to certain medical conditions and diseases. Here are some of the most common causes:

Close to 90% of halitosis cases are due to bacterial cultures in the mouth. There are a number of different types of harmless bacteria that live inside your mouth. In fact most of them are useful in digesting food and keeping other more harmful species of bacteria away from your mouth. These anaerobic bacteria thrive on the cells lining your mouth, in the plaque that forms your teeth, as well as in your saliva. While breaking down food substances in your mouth, these bacteria produce volatile sulfur compounds which cause the unpleasant odor. This is one of the most common causes for halitosis – especially after you wake up in the morning, causing the unpleasant condition that you might know as ‘morning breath’.

Unpleasant odour in the mouth could also be a result of food particles trapped between your teeth, and on your tongue. These food particles later decay, leaving a pungent odour in your mouth. It may also result from insufficient saliva inside your mouth – saliva basically acts as a natural cleanser, as well as being a digestive fluid. It keeps the mouth lubricated, and rids it of lingering food particles. A dry mouth that is insufficiently cleaned will produce unpleasant-smelling breath.

There are other medical conditions that cause halitosis. Common examples of such conditions include bleeding gums and tooth decay. Other illnesses that are associated with bad breath include gingivitis, bio film, gum retraction, ulcers, tonsillitis, and diabetes among others. Early check up for symptoms of these conditions can be helpful in finding a cure and eliminating chances of suffering halitosis.

It may also caused by unhealthy habits such as smoking or chewing tobacco, or regularly eating some pungent food items such as garlic and raw onion.

Prevention

The first step in preventing bad breath is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. This involves improving your oral hygiene and seeking medical treatment for any oral or dental ailments you may experience. The following tips will be very helpful in eliminating unpleasant odour in the mouth:

• Keep your mouth free of food particles after every meal. You can do this by regularly brushing your teeth at least twice a day, and flossing daily will remove food deposits stuck between your teeth. Oral hygiene will also involve cleaning your tongue, where many species of harmful bacteria reside. You can use a tongue scraper to remove the sticky coating on the surface of your tongue, which is caused by food deposits.

• Drinking plenty of water will also be helpful, especially if you struggle to maintain healthy saliva levels. A good amount of saliva in your mouth will assist in eliminating bacteria and food particles from your mouth. It is therefore important to maintain your body well hydrated.

• Avoid overindulging in diets which could exacerbate the condition such as garlic and onions. Digestion of milk-based products is usually slow in people who are lactose intolerant leading to accumulation of bacteria and eventually bad breath. If you are lactose intolerant, it is best to avoid milk and dairy products.

• Alcohol is considered as a drying agent creating a perfect condition for bacteria to survive inside your mouth. Coffee has a high acidity level which promotes production of oral bacteria. It is therefore important to avoid alcohol and coffee if you suffer from chronic halitosis.

• Smoking and chewing tobacco products not only stains your teeth but also largely contribute to production of bad breath. You can consult a dentist or psychiatrist on tips to stop smoking.

• A healthy diet plan will also help to eliminate unpleasant odour in the mouth. You might need to consult a nutritionist, or find a well-structured food guide on the internet, but generally a diet low in fat and sugar but high in fiber, with lots of vegetables, will be ideal in combating this condition. Lack of carbohydrates makes the body burn fat to maintain its required energy levels – this produces ketones, which in turn produce a pungent smell when you exhale. To avoid this, stick to a diet with plenty of carbohydrates such as whole grains and potatoes. Include other essential vitamins such as B and C varieties.

• It can also help to use chewing gum, especially after a meal. Not only does the mint flavor help to reduce halitosis temporarily but normally chewing any type of gum stimulates saliva production in the mouth.

Second generation mouthwashes can also help reduce the severity of bad breath, but usually for very limited periods of time. Peroxide, for instance, contains oxygen which can help reduce levels of anaerobic bacteria in the mouth; but it is very important to use it in very diluted quantities and only a few times a week, as it has been shown it can cause permanent damage to certain structures in the mouth (e.g. filliform papillae on your tongue). An antimicrobial mouthwash is effective in controlling plaque build-up, which causes periodontal disease, which could potentially lead to halitosis. Remember that using mouth rinses won’t cure your bad breath, although it may help minimise it for a few hours.

Halitosis is a problem with a variety of causes and remedies. To stay on top of the condition, it’s important to have regular dental check ups. Subscribing to private dental plans to cover for these check-ups is an effective step in your efforts to live free of halitosis, but the most important factors in the prevention of bad breath are a healthy lifestyle and a strict regimen of oral hygiene.

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