Definition Unpleasant, unusual, or offensive odour to the breath
What is going on in the body? People with bad breath often do not know that they have the problem. However, they should be told so that they can treat the problem. A health professional might be needed to determine the cause of the odour and help the person control or eliminate the problem. There are two general causes for bad breath: local, or systemic causes from within the body other than from the mouth.
What are the causes and risks of the disease? Some local causes of bad breath include:
poor oral hygiene
impacted wisdom tooth
gum boil or gum abscess
not eating for a long time
mouth or throat infections
gum infection caused by gingivitis (gin-jiv-eye-tis), an inflammation of the gums,or periodontitis(pair-ee-oh-don-tie-tis),an inflammation of the structures supporting the tooth
What can be done to prevent the disease? The best place to start is with good home oral hygiene methods including brushing and flossing teeth daily. Mouthwash is not an effective treatment for bad breath since it hides the real cause. Mouthwash can also irritate the tissue in the mouth. Mouthwash and breath mints are only temporary solutions and may mask more serious problems. Also, some breath mints may contain sugars, which can cause cavities. Someone in good health may have bad breath at times, such as in the morning after a long sleep. But persistent bad breath must be examined and treated by a healthcare professional. Seeing a dentist or dental hygienist is a good place to start. If systemic causes are suspected, it may be necessary to see other healthcare professionals.
How is the disease diagnosed? It is difficult to self-diagnose bad breath. If bad breath is suspected, an examination by a healthcare professional might be needed.
What are the treatments for the disease? If improving home oral hygiene does not remove the bad breath, a healthcare professional should be seen. Once the cause of bad breath is found, the problem is usually solved quickly.
Author: Marvin Goldfogel, DDS Reviewer: HealthAnswers Australia Medical Review Panel Editor: Dr David Taylor, Chief Medical Officer HealthAnswers Australia Last Updated: 1/10/2001 Contributors Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request
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