Bad breath can be an indicator of the status of your overall health

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The most elementary, but also one of the most repellent turn offs for a person would most definitely be a simple case of bad breath of the person sitting next to you or talking to you. But this bad breath is not merely caused by garlic chicken or onion rings. There can be many other reasons that can cause bad breath.

Your breath and health are said to be interlinked. Your health is reflected in the smell of your breath, and could even indicate serious health conditions that you may be suffering from. Read on to find out more.

1 Halitosis a.k.a bad breath

Over 80 million people suffer from chronic halitosis, or bad breath. In most cases, this smell solely emanates from the gums and the tongue. The foul smell is caused by the bacteria in the mouth, the decay of food particles, other waste particles in your mouth and poor oral hygiene. The decay along with the other particles produces a sulfur compound, which causes the unpleasant odor.

Traces of very spicy foods, onions, garlic and coffee can be detected in a person’s breath for over 72 hours even after digestion. Onions, for example, are absorbed by the stomach, and the lungs excrete the odor.

bad breath

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Fun fact – Garlic, even when rubbed onto the soles of one’s feet can show up in your breath.

2 Role of saliva

Saliva is the sole ingredient in your mouth that helps your mouth from stinking. It washes away food particles and bacteria, and hence, helps to prevent the stench. But, when you fall asleep, your salivary glands slow down the production of saliva, allowing bacteria to breed in your mouth. This results in the famous ‘morning mouth’. To prevent this, brush your teeth and eat a meal. Morning mouth can also be associated with hunger from skipping meals or fasting. So in case you decide to skip breakfast, you may still be stuck with breath that stinks.

Role of saliva

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3 How are breath and health interrelated?

Bad breath and health can be closely associated as your breath can be a reflection of different things happening in your body.

  • A latest breath test technology can detect stomach cancer in its initial stages. Not only gastric cancer, but cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy can also experience dry mouth.
  • Heart failure can be detected by using mass spectrometry technology which analyzes breath.
  • If your breath is fruity, acidic, or smells like acetone (nail-polish remover), then you may have a serious complication of Diabetes called Ketoacidosis.
  • A mouth that smells fishy, urine-like, or similar to ammonia may indicate kidney/liver failure.
  • A bad case of the ‘morning mouth’ may be related to sleeping disorders like sleep apnea.
  • Digestive conditions like acid reflux and GERD (gastroesophagal reflux disease) can cause foul breath, originating from a foul gut.
How are breath and health interrelated?

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  • Respiratory diseases like flu, bronchitis, and sinusitis also result in bad breath. Even allergies and the usage of postnasal drip contribute to bad breath.
  • Eroded teeth enamel from tooth decay that cannot be removed by brushing can breed bacteria, hence causing stinky breath. Gingivitis is a disease where the gums get infected and cause pain and funky-smelling discharge.
  • Medical infections cause bad breath. Xerostomia (dry mouth) and tobacco also contribute to this problem.
  • Even stress, dieting, snoring, age and hormonal changes can have an effect on your breath.

4 How do I control my bad breath?

Now that you know your breath and health are interrelated, try to work on your bad breath to reflect it on your health. Practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day and also floss regularly to get rid of tiny food particles that may get stuck in between the grooves of your teeth. Clean your tongue, importantly with a tongue scraper. Chewing sugar-free gum may help kill odor.

How do I control my bad breath?

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Visit your dentist regularly to resolve any kind of problem pertaining to the mouth. If your dentist believes that the cause of your breath is internal, then he may refer you to the family physician or a specialist.

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