The Potential Negative Effects of Bad Breath on Valentine's Day

Wicker Park Bucktown Chamber of Commerce - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This blog entry was contributed by: Dr. Melissa Daza, owner of Bucktown Wicker Park Dental. She can be reached at bucktowndental@yahoo.com.


As Valentine’s Day approaches, many people will be thinking of that special someone to spend the day with.

Maybe a romantic dinner for two is your thing or maybe just spending time together doing your
favorite past time. Regardless of your plans, being in close proximity with someone, the one thing you
don’t want to worry about is having bad breath. Bad breath can be caused by many different factors
not just from food like garlic and onions. Alcohol and smoking can also contribute to bad breath. In
addition, certain medication that has been prescribed by your doctor, an infection in the mouth, or a
sign of an underlining medical condition that needs to be address can manifest itself through a malodor
in the mouth. This topic – sometimes embarrassing – could be signs that a needed check up with your
dentist or physician is in order.

The Causes of Bad Breath

Bad breath, also called halitosis, can be caused by a multitude of factors. Definitely, some types of
food you eat can leave an odor in your mouth. What you eat affects the air you exhale. Food you eat
releases plant oil and by products that are absorbed into the bloodstream. It is transferred to the lungs
where it is expelled. The odor will continue to be there until the body rids itself of the food. Dieters of
a high protein, low-carb diet may develop unpleasant breath by producing a condition called ketosis.
This type of diet produces ketones which build up in the body. Some are released through breath which
unfortunately doesn’t smell particularly great. But if the food is collected between the teeth and left
in the mouth from not brushing and flossing daily then the food can rot. A sulfur compound builds
up from the food remains causing chronic bad breath. This in turn can develop into gum disease, or
periodontitis.

Other things beside certain food can also contribute to bad breath. Dry mouth, known as xerostomia,
can cause saliva to decrease and contribute to bad breath. Saliva cleans the mouth and removes some
food particles that may cause odor. Dry mouth can be caused by various medications, salivary gland
problems, snoring, or even by continuously breathing through your mouth.

Systemic illness can manifest itself from bad breath. Non-dental disorders causing bad breath could be
an infection in the respiratory tract, (nose, throat, esophagus, lungs), chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip,
chronic bronchitis, stress, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbance, or ailments from the liver or kidney.


Treatment

If are experiencing bad breath, the first course of action is to take care of your oral health. Brushing
your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes removes food debris and plaque. In particular, brushing
your tongue can greatly remedy this problem. Use floss to clean between the teeth at least once a day.
Sugarless gums that contain xylitol may kill some bacteria and reduce plaque buildup. See your dentist
for regular checkups and professional cleanings. Certain mouth rinses maybe necessary and can be
recommended by your dentist. Natural remedies can be chewing certain herbs such as parsley, mint, basil or thyme. These herbs curb offending smells from food. Eating cranberries make plaque less likely
to form on teeth. 

If you are experiencing dry mouth, drink plenty of water or liquids, and possibly use toothpaste and mouth rinse that are specifically made for dry mouth. Ask your dentist for suggestions if you are uncertain. If it is your medication that is causing your dry mouth, ask your physician if an alternative medication can be used. During spring and summer, allergy medication, can be a major culprit. Try using a humidifier in the winter to eliminate the dry air.

If after the dentist determines that your bad breath is not dental related, then a trip to your favorite physician maybe in order.

Remember, 90% of mouth odors come from the mouth itself. Maintaining good oral health will reduce
bad breath. Scheduling regular dental visits for a professional cleaning and an exam should be your first
step. If you have persistent bad breath, try keeping a log of the foods you eat and the medications you
take. Also, make sure to let your dentist know if you’ve had surgery or any illness. Lastly, if your dentist
determines that your mouth is healthy, then a referral to your physician may be necessary.

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