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Oral Health Buzz

Post Nasal Drip and Bad Breath

Diana Tosuni-O'Neill RDH, BS

Maybe you shouldn't have had that shrimp scampi for lunch. With all of that garlic, it may seem as if your breath can keep people away for miles. Before you swear off garlic forever, consider whether your bad breath was caused by lunch or by something else.

At some point in their lives, most people have experienced bad breath, which is also known as halitosis. Most bad breath starts in the mouth, which contains millions of bacteria. When these bacteria come in contact with food debris, saliva or a post nasal drip, the result is foul-smelling breath. According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), more than 80 million people are affected by this condition.

Causes of Bad Breath

There are a variety of factors that can cause bad breath:

  • Food, such as onions or garlic.
  • Smoking.
  • Poor oral hygiene.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Medical conditions.

Post Nasal Drip

The AGD notes that a common cause of bad breath is post nasal drip, which involves mucus secretions from your nose and throat. This will directly affect your breath because the secretions are an excellent food source for bacteria. If you suffer from sinusitis, which is an infection of the sinus cavity, the thick mucus that occurs from the condition drips back into your throat and contributes to bad breath.

Be wary of dairy products, too. Foods as milk, cheese and yogurt can cause mucus to thicken, which exacerbates post nasal drip and congestion. The mucus can also produce a white or yellow film on the tongue. Post nasal drip can make you feel as if there is something stuck in the back of you throat. You may feel that you need to constantly clear your throat.

How to Prevent Bad Breath

Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily are of the utmost importance in your fight against bad breath, according to the AGD. Try using Colgate® Total® Advanced Toothpaste to reduce bacteria. Plaque is one of the main reasons for bad breath. This sticky film can harbor bacteria. Because your tongue is covered with thousands of tiny hairs that can also trap bacteria, gently brush your tongue with your toothbrush as well. You can also use a tongue scraper, which applies even pressure across the surface of the tongue area to remove bacteria or food debris. In addition, try using an anti-bacterial mouthwash, such as Colgate® Total® Advanced Pro-Shield , to reduce plaque and bacteria. Make sure to visit the dentist twice each year for cleanings because bacteria from plaque creates a bad odor in the mouth.

Lack of saliva can also lead to bad breath. Saliva cleanses the mouth and removes particles that can cause bad odors. If your mouth is dry, try drinking more water during the day, chew sugarless gum or suck sugarless logenzes to increase the flow of saliva.

If you smoke, try to kick the habit. Smoking wreaks havoc with your breath, damages gum tissue, stains teeth and increases your risk of oral cancer.

Sometimes, bad breath can be a symptom of medical conditions such as allergies and sinus infections. Nasal washes can also be an effective treatment for post nasal drip. In some cases, antibiotics might be required to treat a sinus infection. Utilizing these methods can help eliminate the cause of halitosis in order to keep your breath fresh and clean!

Learn more about bad breath in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

Source: N/A

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