Halitosis, or bad breath, is a common oral health problem. Preventing it is one of the many reasons why we at Fresh Meadows Dental Care in Flushing want our patients to know how to maintain their oral hygiene. But halitosis has a few causes that may be less intuitive than gum disease or smoking that people should know to look out for.
As oral bacteria on teeth metabolize sugar, they produce acid and build up sticky layers of plaque. The build-up produces a bad smell which abates when plaque is removed by brushing and flossing. But oral bacteria can also build up on the tongue. Not only can food particles be trapped there, so can nasal drip when a patient has a cold. This is why brushing the tongue and using a tongue scraper every day is important.
Halitosis could also indicate a more serious health concern. Bacteria will multiply faster when the mouth is dried out. Both halitosis and gum disease tend to be worse in people suffering dry mouth as a side effect of medication or an illness. Diabetes suppresses the oral immune system and raises the sugar content of saliva, while acid reflux causes odorous stomach acid to enter the oral cavity. Foods in the onion and garlic family also include chemicals that travel from the bloodstream and into the lungs, where they cause bad breath. Most of these can be mitigated by drinking lots of water in addition to keeping good oral hygiene. A patient’s physician may be able to substitute medications that are causing dry mouth.
Farid Hakimzadeh, DDS, operates Fresh Meadows Dental Care at 58-47 Francis Lewis Blvd., Suite 100, Flushing, New York, 11364. To schedule an appointment, call 718-224-7272 or visit Fresh Meadows Dental and fill out a contact form.