Bad Breath: Causes of Halitosis and How to Treat It

Many people have experienced a bout of bad breath at one time or another. While the cure for your oral odor may be as simple as freshening your mouth with a toothbrush and minty toothpaste, others experience chronic halitosis that can’t be covered up for long.

Chronic bad breath is not only a concern for individuals who are worried that they will repulse their romantic partners, but also for anyone who comes into close contact with a halitosis sufferer during work or face-to-face conversations.

People who experience bad breath on a regular basis may think that they can get rid of it by chewing gum or sucking on mints, but these products only mask the smell for the time being.

While it may seem obvious, certain foods can cause bad breath. However, odor caused by garlic or other potent ingredients doesn’t always disappear after a few toothbrushing sessions.

The American Dental Association (ADA) explains that as food is digested, particles are absorbed into the bloodstream and transferred to the lungs. These molecules can continue to be expelled into the air as a person exhales until the food has been completely digested and removed from his or her body.

That is one reason why you may have bad breath. Another possibility is that you have dry mouth—a condition called xerostomia—which can allow bacteria to fester within the mouth and produce foul-smelling volatile sulfur compounds, the ADA explains. Dry mouth can be caused by sleeping with your mouth open, smoking or as a side effect of some medications.

On the topic of mouth bacteria, there has been a growing interest in the potential uses for probiotics in treating halitosis. Many people have heard of probiotic-enriched yogurt and dairy products that may help regulate digestion, but few understand how this process can benefit one’s breath.

In a recent article from the Huffington Post, Dr. Harold Katz explained that oral care probiotics contain live strains of bacteria. He goes on to write that one recent study indicated that individuals who were treated for one week with a probiotic containing L. salivarius experienced a decrease in volatile sulfur compounds in their mouths.

Products such oral care probiotics are considered to be healthy, meaning that they help replace the harmful varieties that cause bad breath, gum disease and cavities.

Although it may seem embarrassing to talk to your dentist about halitosis, rest assured that you are not alone. About one-quarter of adults experience this condition, according to researchers at the University of Buffalo.

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