Bad breath disease


Bad breath is a breath containing an unpleasant odor. This odor can strike periodically or may be persistent, depending on the cause. In many patients, the millions of bacteria that live in the mouth are the primary culprits of bad breath. The mouth's warm, moist conditions make an ideal environment for these bacteria to grow. Some kinds of bad breath, such as morning mouth, are considered to be fairly normal, and they are usually not health concerns. The morning mouth type of bad breath occurs because the saliva that regularly washes away decaying food and odors during the daytime diminishes at night while you sleep. Your mouth becomes dry, and dead cells adhere to your tongue and to the inside of your cheeks. Bacteria use these cells for food and expel compounds that have a foul odor.

Symptoms

A person may not always know that they have bad breath. This phenomenon is based on the fact that odor-detecting cells in the nose eventually become accustomed to the constant flow of bad smells from the mouth. Socially, the worst symptom is simply having bad breath and not realizing it. Others notice, however, and react by recoiling at the smell as you speak.

Diagnosis

A dentist or physician may notice the patient's bad breath while the patient is discussing his or her medical history and symptoms. In some cases, depending on the smell of the patient's breath, the dentist or physician may suspect a likely cause for the problem. For example, "fruity" breath may be a sign of uncontrolled diabetes mellitus. A urine-like smell, especially in a person who is at high risk for kidney disease, can sometimes indicate kidney failure.

Prevention

Bad breath due to dental problems can be easily prevented. Daily maintenance calls for brushing your teeth, tongue and gums after meals, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwashes approved by the American Dental Association. Regular visits to the dentist should be made for dental examinations and for professional teeth and gum cleaning. Drinking plenty of water every day to encourage saliva production can also combat bad breath. An occasional swish of the mouth with water can loosen food particles. Other products that keep breath fresh and prevent plaque from forming include sugar-free gum, sugarless lozenges, raw carrots and celery.

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