Halitosis is bad breath.
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Halitosis is the medical name for bad breath. Often people with halitosis do not know that they have it. Halitosis can be caused by many things:
- Eating certain spicy foods, such as garlic and onion, which have odors that are expelled through the lungs after being absorbed into the bloodstream
- Poor oral hygiene, which leaves food particles in the mouth to collect odor-causing bacteria
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Sinus or respiratory infections
- Xerostomia (zero-STO-me-a) of the mouth (unusual dryness)
- Medical disorders, such as liver disease, kidney disease, or diabetes
- Dieting and ketone * build-up in the body.
How Is Halitosis Treated and Prevented?
Treatment for halitosis depends on its cause. Dentists can identify oral causes, which account for most cases of halitosis, and develop an appropriate treatment plan. For halitosis due to gum disease, dentists may refer people to specialists in treating the gums called periodontists. Dentists may refer people with healthy mouths who have halitosis to doctors for diagnosis and treatment.
Good dental hygiene is very important in preventing halitosis. This includes:
- Brushing teeth at least twice a day
- Brushing the tongue
- Removing pieces of food caught between teeth with dental floss every day
- Having regular dental check-ups and dental cleanings
* ketones (KEE-tones) are the chemicals produced when the body breaks down fat for energy.
It also is important for people who wear dentures to take them out each night and to clean them well before putting them in again.
Smith, Rebecca. The Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery's Guide to Family Dental Care. New York: Norton, 1997.
American Dental Association, 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611.