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Could you possibly have bad breath?

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It’s one of the great social taboos out there. Here’s our quick guide to the causes and treatment of bad breath.

With the vast majority of medical problems that we suffer from, there’s an obvious symptom or symptoms that lets us know there’s something wrong. Sadly, however, this is not the case with bad breath – or halitosis, to give it the proper medical name.

And this is probably why there’s such a social taboo around bad breath – it’s the condition that we simply don't know about unless somebody decides to confront us with the bad news.

And let’s face it, which of us would want to tell a friend or family member that their breath was less than wonderfully fresh? The bottom line from all of this is that we have to assume that we might have bad breath – and behave accordingly.

This means that we should all be wary about eating certain foods that have a reputation for causing bad breath – onions and garlic spring readily to mind – while we should also be extra vigilant about controlling the harmful bacteria that often lead to bad breath.


What causes bad breath?


First of all, it’s beyond argument that bad breath can be caused poor dental hygiene. But that’s not the only cause – it may also be due to a number of different health problems.

It's important to point out, however, that it's not something you're born with, so the remedy is probably in your own hands. And while it might be glaringly obvious to point it out, one of the most obvious causes of bad breath is smoking.

We all know that sensation of coming into a room the morning after a number of people have been smoking. Perhaps there are still ashtrays full of stubbed out cigarettes. It’s an absolutely intolerable smell for most of us, so it's easy to imaging how the same cigarettes will impact negatively on the quality of your breath freshness.


How does food play a part?


No matter what food you put in your mouth, it starts to be broken down by the chewing process – even before it passes on to our digestive tract and into our bloodstream. And remember that, via the bloodstream, the food will eventually make its way into your lungs, where it will obviously have an impact on your breath as you exhale.


This problem is exacerbated when the food you eat has a strong flavor to start off with. We’ve already mentioned garlic and onions, and even if you brush your teeth for a number of minutes after consuming them, the strong taste and smell will linger for a long time afterwards.


At its most simple level, the odour won’t fully disappear until all the traces of the food have completely passed through your system.


So why is brushing important?


We’re very definitely not saying that brushing won't have any impact on bad breath. If you don't brush and floss on a regular basis, small particles of food will remain in your mouth, providing the perfect new home for bacteria to lurk in. This is particularly true about the gaps between the teeth, around the gum area – and also on your tongue.


If you already have bad breath, this will make it much worse. And if you haven’t, you could be allowing it to get a hold. So the bottom line is that you should never become anything less than vigilant when it comes to flossing and brushing, and you should also consider using a good mouthwash that has an anti-bacterial action.


If you can’t find one that fits the bill in your supermarket, ask us the next time you're in the MyDental surgery and we’ll put you on the right track.


One other point about bad breath that we’d like to make relates to dentures. Just because they're not your real teeth, you need to be equally vigilant in terms of brushing and cleaning, as otherwise they’ll provide a nice, warm, moist environment for bacteria.


Equally, if you have a poorly fitting dental bridge, for example, this can provide a nice ‘home’ for bacteria or food particles as there may be a number of gaps in evidence. If you suspect this is the problem with your own tooth bridge, why not drop into to us and let us address the issue.


One last thought on smoking.


It really is difficult to over-state the negative impact of smoking on your breath. We appreciate how difficult it is to quit, but here’s some sobering content from the World Dental Federation that might make the decision that bit easier for you -http://www.fdiworldental.org/oral-health/tobacco/serious-risks-to-healthoral-health.aspx