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What causes bad breath?

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If you have bad breath and you haven’t been eating onions or garlic, it may be a sign that you have gum disease, tooth decay or an underlying medical issue. Bad breath – halitosis — can be embarrassing, but it’s important not to ignore it.

Poor oral hygiene is one of the most common reasons people have bad breath.

If you don’t keep your teeth and gums clean, decay and debris in your mouth can produce unpleasant odors. Make sure you schedule an appointment with your dentist if you brush twice a day and floss daily and still have bad breath.

Periodontitis – gum disease – also causes bad breath.

You can have gum disease and be completely unaware you have it. Bad breath is just one of the symptoms. Other signs you may have gum disease include swollen gums and bleeding. If you catch gum disease early – during a stage called gingivitis – your dentist and hygienist can eliminate the infection. Left untreated, gum disease can wreak havoc on your health causing all sorts of dental problems and tooth loss.

Sometimes, an underlying medical issue is the culprit of bad breath.

If you have a cold or allergies, you may have post-nasal drip. This can coat the back part of your tongue with bacteria from mucus. You can try using a tongue scraper to get rid of the bacteria in the short-term. Bad breath can also be associated with diabetes. Diabetic ketoacidosis, which occurs from lacking insulin, can give a sweet, fruity odor to your breath.

Dry mouth makes it easier for bacteria and bad breath to persist.

Medications, radiation therapy for cancer and dieting can cause dry mouth. It’s important to keep saliva active in your mouth because it helps wash away food particles and bacteria. Try sipping water throughout the day. Don’t skip meals.

Smoking causes bad breath and gum disease.

Quitting smoking isn’t easy but many people are able to quit eventually. Your overall health begins to improve quickly after you quit smoking.

See a dentist to banish bad breath.

Whether you have gingivitis, an infected tooth or tooth decay, the sooner you see your dentist, the better. Putting off treatment can make it harder to treat any dental problem you might have.

You can also ask your dentist if a prescription oral rinse would help eliminate your bad breath. Unlike over-the-counter rinses, prescription rinses have stronger formulas to kill bacteria and fight gum disease. If your bad breath isn’t caused by a dental issue, you may need to see your health provider for help.

New and existing patients at Konikoff Dentistry can request a dental appointment online or by calling 1-800-SMILE-23. Konikoff Dentistry has eight convenient locations with three offices in Chesapeake, one in Suffolk and four in Virginia Beach.

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