WILL YOUR FRIENDS TELL YOU? (Or Ewwww.....That Smell)
One of the most common questions we get in our office is - What causes bad breath? Ironically, many times the question comes not from the offender, but from a long suffering spouse or family member. There are many causes of bad breath (which we call “halitosis”) - some can be quite serious, but most are not. While many people have decided to just hold their nose and live with it, the good news is diagnosing and treating bad breath is something that can be easily treated.
I have included a list, in no particular order, of the reasons people may be slowly backing up during conversations:
FOODS CONTAINING PUNGENT OILS Yes - garlic and onions are very healthy, but they also contain oils which cause unhealthy reactions to those around you. These odors come from the lungs, last up to 72 hours, and are very tough to cover up. Mints, gum, and rinses work best - or make sure everyone around you has had the same yummy food as well!!
ROUTINE ILLNESS Colds, sore throats, coughs and sinus infections all cause that yucky smelling mucus (or snot, depending on your age), to get trapped in our mouths, throats, and noses, which causes foul breath until the illness is gone. Of course, if you have one of these contagious infections you shouldn’t be that close to someone anyway! If a sinus infection, sore throat, cough or cold lasts for more than a few days to a week, you should obviously see your physician to make sure things aren’t of a more serous nature.
DRY MOUTH A dry mouth lets dead cells accumulate on your gums, cheeks, and especially tongue. While morning breath is perfectly normal, it shouldn’t last all day. Those who snore, mouth-breathe, take certain medications, or even have lasted into middle age are prone to a dry mouth.
SMOKING Smoking dries out your mouth (see above) and also tobacco just plain stinks. If lung cancer and heart disease aren’t reason enough to quit smoking, maybe a constant foul mouth will help you make that life-saving decision.
CHRONIC DISEASE Many serious diseases such as lung infections, kidney failure, diabetes, GERD, anorexia, bulimia and many others can cause very specific types of halitosis. The good news is that these are on the rare side, but if suspected, should be seen immediately by a physician.
POOR DENTAL HYGIENE AND GUM DISEASE Ahhh.... this is our favorite! Not because we like people to have poor dental hygiene, but because this is the most common cause of bad breath and we can usually treat very easily. Gum disease, which usually starts with poor brushing and flossing habits, as well as a lack of routine dental visits, can do much more than make your mouth stinky. In just a short period of time, gum disease can advance and eat away at the gums and bone which hold your teeth in place. The result? Loose, unstable teeth which will eventually be lost if not treated. Catching gum disease early is imperative, since treatment can be very conservative. Wait too long and it gets much more difficult, extensive, and expensive. To add insult to injury, the latest research suggests that gum disease may be contagious. Does that mean bad breath may be contagious? The answer is YES!!!!
Bad breath is not normal. Seeing your dentist and dental hygienist on a routine basis is your best bet for making sure your teeth and gums stay healthy, your smile stays bright, and your breath doesn’t cause others to run in the opposite direction. If you have any questions about this topic or any others concerning you or someone you care about, please feel free to call Dr. Thomas Rector or Dr. Lynn Marshall at 765-288-1307. Our entire dental team are here to help you.
Our website: www.drthomasrector.com also contains information that you will certainly find useful.