Man examines tongue, addressing the bad breath conundrum
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The White Tongue, Bad Breath Conundrum

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Bad breath… everyone has been there before. You may not smell your own necessarily, but sometimes you are certain you can taste it. Most people think it comes from eating certain foods or not regularly brushing their teeth. One way to check without suffering the indignity of asking a close friend to smell your breath is to check the colour of your tongue. A white tongue - bad breath combination usually goes hand-in-hand. Before examining the link between a white tongue and bad breath, here are some causes of bad breath.

Causes of Bad Breath:

Some of these are obvious, but some are not so obvious. Here are five reasons your breath might need a tune-up:

  1. Poor oral health: Not having a good oral care regimen means you have food particles on and in between the teeth. Bacteria thrives in this kind of environment, causing issues like bad breath.
  2. Tobacco: Yet another reason to quit smoking, as if the risk of lung cancer was not already enough.
  3. Dry mouth: A lack of saliva inhibits your mouth's ability to remove excess food particles. Bad breath can result from those left behind particles.
  4. Food: The most common cause occurs from the usual suspects like onions and garlic.
  5. Medical conditions: Certain conditions like sinusitis or a post-nasal drip can leave a film on the tongue that might cause bad breath.

Causes of White Tongue:

White tongue is a result of overgrown and swollen papillae on the tongue's surface. Bacteria and dead cells that lodge between the papillae cause the white coating. Numerous causes encourage white tongue, including alcohol and tobacco use, fever, dry mouth and mouth breathing, dehydration and poor oral care. Many causes overlap with the causes of bad breath, including bacteria in the mouth, so it is easy to see how the conditions intersect.

White Tongue Treatment

When you notice a white tongue, schedule a check-up with your dentist to have him properly assess the state of your oral health and provide targeted guidance based on your dental health history. Some treatments directly address some of the more common causes, such as eliminating alcohol and tobacco use and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. Also be sure to brush twice a day with toothpaste, such as Colgate® Max Fresh Toothpaste to keep your breath fresh and clean, and floss daily to eliminate food particles that brushing might miss. You can also try a tongue scraper to remove the film build-up, says The Times of India's article.

Prevention of bad breath resulting from white tongue begins with a proper oral care regimen. Be sure to follow your dentist's recommendations to correct white tongue, bad breath or both, and maintain a proper oral hygiene routine to prevent it from cropping up in the future.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.