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an article by
Valentina Tkachenko
(visitor contribution)
Halitosis is commonly known as bad breath, and can have a number of causes, the most common of which is poor oral hygiene caused by insufficient brushing and flossing. Other causes include bacterial infections, certain medications and medical conditions, post-nasal drip resulting from a cold or flu, xerostomia, and consuming foods such as garlic and onions which not only leave an unpleasant odor in the mouth but contain chemicals which are absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to the lungs which causes halitosis which is only masked but not eliminated by traditional solutions such as chewing gum or rinsing with mouthwash. Bacterial halitosis arises on the back of the tongue, in gaps between teeth, and in unfilled cavities. Smoking and using other tobacco products can also cause bad breath and patients are always encouraged to quit.

The most effective test to see if one has halitosis is to lick the back of one’s hand and allow the saliva to dry before smelling it – simply blowing into one’s hand is not sufficient to determine the true odor. Preventing halitosis can be achieved by practicing better oral care, thoroughly cleaning braces, dentures, and retainers, chewing sugar-free gum which stimulates salivation which cleanses the mouth, desisting tobacco use, and rinsing with anti-bacterial mouthwash which kills oral bacteria. A dentist can judge if halitosis is a symptom of a more serious condition.

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