What Is Halitosis? Occasional Bad Breath Or A Chronic Problem?

man with fresh breath talking to woman

We've all been there: You've eaten some garlic bread or you have a dry mouth, and you realise that your breath isn't as fresh as it should be. But there's a big difference between the occasional bad breath that everyone experiences and the misfortune of having chronic bad breath. Equipping purses and lunchboxes with mouthwash doesn't easily resolve chronic bad breath, also known as halitosis. So, what is halitosis and how can you and your family deal with it? Here are a few tips.

What Causes Halitosis?

Halitosis has a range of causes, some of which are pretty serious. Here are some of the most common offenders:

·     Food particles. Foods such as garlic, onion and other strong-smelling meal ingredients can leave particles behind in your mouth and on your tongue, resulting in an unpleasant post-lunch odour. Luckily, it's easily treated and not a chronic cause of halitosis.

·     Dry mouth. Medications, smoking and breathing from the mouth can contribute to having a dry mouth. This lack of saliva means bacteria isn't being rinsed out of the mouth as well as it should, and this can lead to bad breath. Occasional dry mouth is one thing, but your bad breath could become chronic as a side effect of daily smoking.

·     Dental problems. According to the South African Dental Association, oral diseases and conditions, such as gingivitis and periodontal disease, can lead to bad breath. Short-term breath freshening methods might mask the problem, but the smell can remain when the core issues go unchecked.

·     Medical issues. Some viruses and illnesses, particularly those that affect the sinuses, nasal passages and throat, can result in halitosis. Children with offensive breath might have a cold or sinus infection.

How to Cope With Halitosis

Just remember: If it's a short-term problem, take comfort in employing a short-term solution. If your bad breath is the result of food particles or dry mouth, stimulate saliva production to help wash away bacteria and freshen breath.

If your bad breath is the result of a chronic issue such as tooth decay or an illness, you'll need to see a health care professional. If you have a dental problem, make an appointment with your dentist. If you think the problem may be internal, you'll need to see your family doctor.

Now that you know the answer to the question, "What is halitosis?" you also know you're not alone. Treating the issue at the source means fresher breath wherever you are during the day.

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.

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