• Sunday, January 29, 2023

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1 in 4 suffer from bad breath – Here’s a ‘simple’ trick to detect it

While bad breath may be a common issue, experts warn that it could be a warning sign of worsening gum disease.

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By: Kimberly Rodrigues

Having bad breath is an embarrassing problem everyone wants to avoid. But unfortunately, for many people, this problem known medically as halitosis can persist even after brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash.

In fact, according to health professionals, even though most people may have bad breath, they are not aware of it. And apparently, an estimated one in four people have halitosis, The Mirror reports.

But while bad breath may be a common issue, experts warn that it could be a warning sign of worsening gum disease.

Fortunately, then, there is a simple trick that can help you to test your breath for yourself.

According to experts at the Oral Health Foundation, you can lick the inside of your wrist and sniff it, if it smells bad then “you can be fairly sure” that your breath smells bad.

The test

Explaining the test in detail, in an earlier report in Everyday Health Dr Jonathan B. Levine, DMD, an associate professor at the NYU School of Dentistry reportedly said, “Wipe the surface of your mouth with a piece of cotton gauze and smell that. If you notice a yellowish stain on the cotton, that’s a likely sign that you have an elevated sulfide production level.

“Now, lick the back of your hand. Let it dry for about 10 seconds, then smell. If you notice an odour, you have a breath disorder because the sulfur salts from your tongue have been transferred to your hand.”

Causes

Dr Harold Katz, a dentist specialising in bacteriology, is quoted as saying, “Almost all bad breath odours are caused by anaerobic bacteria living in the back of the tongue, throat, and tonsils, which break down the proteins in our food as part of their daily job.

“However, when someone isn’t entirely healthy, it can be harder for these bacteria to break down these proteins as they should, leaving particular chemical smells behind.”

Another reason for bad breath is when you have a really dry mouth, and therefore, it smells – probably because of some medication that you may be taking.

Old age can also be a reason for bad breath because less saliva is produced in the mouth. This leads to a buildup of excess bacteria, thereby causing halitosis or bad breath.

Certain medical conditions can also reportedly cause bad breath, including infections of the nose, throat, or lungs or due to bronchitis, diabetes, sinusitis, or problems with the liver and kidney.

Additionally, lifestyle factors are also to blame. In fact, certain things like smoking tobacco and eating foods with strong smells can make the condition worse.

Smoking and tobacco “decrease the amount of saliva in your mouth,” states Dr Levine. “Saliva contains oxygen, which keeps your mouth healthy and fresh.”

He adds, “High-protein foods, coffee, onions and garlic, sugar, acidic foods and drinks, and dairy products all result in worse breath because they create an environment for the bad bacteria to grow. It needs to be balanced with fruits, veggies, and alkalinizing good foods.”

In addition, other health experts are of the opinion, “As well as making your breath smell, smoking causes staining and loss of taste, and irritates the gums.”

They add, “People who smoke are more likely to suffer from gum disease and have a greater risk of developing cancer of the mouth, lung cancer, and heart disease.”

But there’s some good news for those who have a dry mouth and consequently bad breath. Experts inform, “If you suffer from dry mouth, your dental team may be able to recommend or prescribe an artificial saliva product.”

Prevention

The first step to overcoming bad breath is keeping your mouth “clean and fresh,” experts state.

They emphasise, “To keep your breath fresh, you must get rid of any gum disease.”

Also, to maintain good oral hygiene and prevent bad breath – brush your teeth and gums using fluoride toothpaste. And remember, to brush your tongue.

It is also reportedly advised to follow this routine once during the day and again before bedtime at night, along with flossing.

For more intense cleaning, dental check-ups are crucial. Experts also recommend keeping a food diary and discussing any medication you are taking, with your dentist.

Cleaning dentures is equally important as cleaning your teeth. And besides brushing you should also soak your dentures in a specialist cleaning solution.

The experts advise you to “keep a separate toothbrush for cleaning your dentures.”

Speaking about another approach to get an unbiased opinion about having bad breath, Dr Dan Marut, DMD, a dentist based in Ashland, Oregon, and president and founder of Quality Dental Plan previously told Everyday Health, that you can “ask someone you trust who will give you an honest answer.”

He adds, “You can always ask a dental professional as well. Many times, people are embarrassed to ask, and others are afraid to tell them. Your mouth is a very personal space — talking about it is not always easy.”

Eastern Eye

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