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Banishing Bad Breath: A Comprehensive Guide to Fresh Oral Hygiene

Having bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a common and embarrassing problem. While occasional bad breath is normal, chronic halitosis can be an indication of a serious health condition. Treating halitosis can be done through dental and medical treatments, lifestyle changes, diet and more.

Bad breath can be caused by food debris and plaque that accumulates on the teeth, bacteria in the mouth, or other health conditions. Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing at least once a day can help eliminate food debris and bacteria that cause bad odors. It is important to visit the dentist for regular cleanings and checkups, as well.

Drinking water (not sugary or caffeinated drinks) throughout the day and using an alcohol-free mouthwash can help to keep your mouth hydrated, which helps produce saliva and eliminates odor-causing bacteria. Keeping your tongue free of debris and avoiding foods that smell bad can also help reduce halitosis.

If your bad odor does not improve after practicing good oral hygiene, it is a sign of an underlying health issue and should be evaluated by your dentist and doctor. This could include gum disease, tonsil issues or other illnesses such as sinusitis or diabetes. Other causes of bad odors may include stomach infections; a swollen or infected tonsil; medications like antidepressants, sedatives and other drugs; a soiled denture or pillow; smoking and some diets such as fasting and low-carb diets.

Visiting your dentist for a professional cleaning and examination is the best way to determine the cause of your halitosis and to find out how to treat it. For example, if your halitosis is caused by gum disease, your dentist can perform a procedure called scaling and root planing to remove the bacteria that cause these symptoms. Medications can also contribute to your halitosis, and if this is the case, your doctor can change your prescription or recommend other medicines that will help your condition.

Diet is an important part of treating halitosis and it is helpful to avoid foods that are known to cause bad odors such as garlic, onions and more pungent spices. Instead, eating foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables that require a lot of chewing can help to clear out debris in the mouth. This can be supplemented with a mouth rinse that contains antibacterial ingredients, such as xylitol or chlorhexidine, to help kill bacteria and promote fresher breath. It is also important to stop smoking or other tobacco use, as it contributes to halitosis. For more information about treating bad breath, talk to a Penn Dental Medicine specialist. These doctors can provide care for mucosal diseases, salivary gland disorders, orofacial pain conditions and oral complications of cancer therapies, among other things. They can also give you advice and recommendations to help you overcome halitosis and get back to feeling and smelling your best. You may also want to ask your primary care physician or other health care provider for recommendations and advice.