We know bad breath, also known as halitosis, is annoying to deal with, but what actually causes it? According to Bob Kross, a biochemist studying oral care and quoted in the Daily Ardmoreite, “At least 90 percent of bad breath problems are associated with the sulfurous compounds generated by the putrefying, malodor-forming, anaerobic bacteria, which hide in oral crevices, and which degrade food particles and salivary cell fragments.”

Watch the video below to learn what the American Dental Association has to say in regards to the treatment of halitosis (bad breath):

Transcript:

“If you occasionally have bad breath, sometimes called halitosis, you’re not alone. Some studies show that 50% of adults have had bad breath at some point in their lives. There are a number of possible causes, ranging from the harmless to the serious. What would you guess is a major cause of bad breath? It’s not garlic, although that definitely doesn’t help. It’s actually oral microflora. While flora might sound rosy, it’s actually hundreds of types of bacteria that are naturally found in your mouth, and it definitely doesn’t smell rosy. Your warm, moist mouth works as a perfect hot house for bacteria to grow. After you eat, that bacteria goes to work consuming the food particles left in your mouth and secreting waste known as volatile sulfur compounds. It’s these compounds, which smell like rotten eggs, that cause bad breath. Over-the-counter mouthwashes can help kill bacteria or neutralize and temporarily mouth the bad-smelling compounds. But the longer you wait to remove those food particles by brushing and flossing, the more likely your breath will offend. Most of the bacteria that cause bad breath are found on the back of your tongue. Stick out your tongue and look way in the back. You’ll probably see a white or brownish coating. That’s where most of the bad breath bacteria hang out. So when you brush twice a day, remember to brush your tongue to get rid of it. You can also use a tongue scraper. Studies have shown that tongue brushing reduces bad breath measurements by 70%. If you wear removable dentures, take them out at night and be sure to clean them thoroughly before using them again the next morning. Another cause of bad breath is dry mouth. Your saliva works around the clock to wash out your mouth. So if you don’t have enough saliva, your mouth isn’t getting cleaned enough. This can be caused by various medications, salivary gland problems, or simply by breathing through your mouth. You might try sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candies to help generate more saliva. Or your dentist may recommend artificial saliva. Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth can also be a warning sign of advanced gum disease, which is caused by plaque. Your dentist can help bring your gums back to a healthy state. Now, if your dentist rules out the causes here and you brush and floss your teeth every day, bad breath may be the result of another health problem, such as a sinus condition, diabetes, or liver or kidney disease, in which case, you would want to see your family doctor. If you have any questions, be sure to ask your dentist.”

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