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What Causes Halitosis?

Are you satisfied with your smile? Before you answer, remember that satisfaction includes your feeling about how your mouth smells, and not just how it looks. At All Coast Dental in Pacific Beach, we provide for our patients’ general and cosmetic dental needs. But the two are usually closely entwined, and this week, we’re examining how halitosis, or bad breath, can be indicative of a health issue.

Sometimes, it is obvious that a bad odor is coming from food debris. But if you haven’t just eaten, halitosis is more likely to be due to the oral bacteria consuming the leftover food in your mouth. Oral bacteria give off an unpleasant aroma as they metabolize sugars, and they have both a hiding spot and easy access to food on the papillae of the tongue. Drinking water will help clear out both bacteria and debris, and is the most reliable way to get rid of halitosis in the short term. It will also stimulate the production of saliva, which, besides washing away debris, contains enzymes that combat bacteria. For general maintenance, we recommend brushing the tongue once a day at the same time as the teeth, and using a tongue scraper before bed.

Certain foods, such as onions, may continue to release chemicals into your bloodstream which would alter your breath as they are digested. There’s not much you can do about this except avoid those foods. However, if you have diabetes or are on a low-carb diet, the breakdown of fat in your body may also change your breath. Acid that bubbles up from your stomach can also contribute to halitosis and enamel erosion, but you can reduce your risk of it by avoiding meals before bed and reducing your intake of alcohol, red meat, and tomatoes. Lastly, you should be aware that if you have a nasal infection, discharge may be dripping onto the back of your tongue, but you can mitigate this with mouthwash.

Drs. Julie and Joseph Boulos operate All Coast Dental at 2180 Garnet Ave, Suite 1-K, Pacific Beach, California, 92109. To schedule an appointment, call 858-270-4904 or visit All Coast Dental and fill out a contact sheet.

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