Halitosis. It might sound like an exotic and deadly disease, but it’s actually the medical term for something we all know too well – bad breath. It’s unpleasant, and it can ruin a whispered conversation or romantic moment, but it’s nothing to worry about. Or is it?
Bad breath itself is harmless, if a little offensive. But it can be a symptom of something worth worrying over. So, what’s causing your problem, and should you be concerned? Here is everything you always wanted to know about bad breath, but were too embarrassed to ask.
You are what you eat (or at least your breath smells like it)
The most common cause of breath odor problems is food. This is normal, and usually easy to identify. If you have a burger with extra onions, your breath smells like onions. Brushing your teeth, and using mouthwash, or breath mints can help. A less obvious way that food can cause bad breath is low carbohydrate intake. If your breath smells fruity, or similar to acetone, this could be the cause – particularly if you are on a diet. It happens because the body is burning more than average fat for energy.
When bad breath is a bad sign
What if the problem is constant, or seems unrelated to food? Then it might be time to see a dentist. The other common cause of bad breath is bacteria. That’s right, those tiny little “bugs” that make their homes in dental plaque, infected wounds, and other undesirable locations. They really stink – literally. This type of bad breath can be a sign of gum disease, mouth sores, bacteria colonizing behind braces, or infected teeth.
Other possible causes include medications or diseases that reduce saliva flow, because saliva naturally helps rinse bacteria and food particles off your teeth. Sinus infections, throat infections, digestive problems, and some kidney conditions can also lead to bad breath.
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