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Don’t Let Bad Breath Trouble Your Pretty Smile

The festive season is here once again. The kiss. The smile. The breath. What’s most important to you (and to your significant other)? Chances are it’s good breath. Let’s get personal. Bad breath (halitosis) may be common in dogs -- but for people, bad breath affects how you feel about yourself, not to mention how others perceive you.

In fact, you may not know you have halitosis until a brave friend tells you. Halitosis can be embarrassing and may cause anxiety. It's no wonder store shelves are overflowing with gum, mints, mouthwashes and other products designed to combat this condition. But many of these products are mere temporary measures.

How can you tell if you have bad breath? A simple way is to stick a clean finger in your mouth and scrape saliva from the back of your tongue. Put it on the back of your hand, wait a minute, then smell your hand. Is it something you’d want to kiss?

Halitosis (bad breath) is a term used to describe noticeably unpleasant odors exhaled in breathing. Halitosis is estimated to be the third most frequent reason for seeking dental aid, following tooth decay and periodontal disease

In most cases (85–90%), bad breath originates in the mouth. The intensity of bad breath differs during the day, due to eating certain foods (such as garlic, onions, meat, fish, and cheese), obesity, smoking, and alcohol consumption. Since the mouth is exposed to less oxygen and is inactive during the night, the odor is usually worse upon awakening ("morning breath").

Bad breath may be transient, often disappearing following eating, brushing one's teeth, flossing, or rinsing with specialized mouthwash. Bad breath may also be persistent (chronic bad breath), which is a more serious condition, affecting some 25% of the population in varying degrees.

There are over 600 types of bacteria found in the average mouth. These bacteria produce malodorous compounds and fatty acids, and account for 80 to 90% of all cases of mouth-related bad breath. Oral based lesions caused by viral infections like Herpes Simplex and HPV may also contribute to bad breath. Advanced periodontal disease is a common cause of severe halitosis.

The second major source of bad breath is the nose. In this occurrence, the air exiting the nostrils has a pungent odor that differs from the oral odor. Nasal odor may be due to sinus infections or foreign bodies.

Other sources of halitosis include:- the tonsils, esophagus, stomach. As well as Systemic diseases such as chronic liver failure, Lower respiratory tract infections (bronchial and lung infections). Renal infections and renal failure. "fish odor syndrome, Diabetes mellitus and metabolic dysfunction.

Individuals afflicted by the above conditions often show additional, more diagnostically conclusive symptoms than bad breath.

Halitophobia (delusion halitosis)

Some one-quarter of the patients seeking professional advice on bad breath suffer from a highly exaggerated concern of having bad breath, known as halitophobia, delusional halitosis, or as a manifestation of Olfactory Reference Syndrome. These patients are sure that they have bad breath, although many have not asked anyone for an objective opinion. Halitophobia may severely affect the lives of some 0.5–1.0% of the adult population.

Self-diagnosis

Scientists have long thought that smelling one's own breath odor is often difficult due to acclimatization, although many people with bad breath are able to detect it in others. The simplest and most effective way to know whether one has bad breath is to ask a trusted adult family member or very close friend ("confidant"). If the confidant confirms that there is a breath problem, he or she can help determine whether it is coming from the mouth or the nose, and whether a particular treatment is effective or not

. One popular home method is to lightly scrape the posterior back of the tongue with a plastic disposable spoon and to smell the drying residue. Home tests that use a chemical reaction to test for the presence of polyamines and sulfur compounds on tongue swabs are now available

Professional diagnosis

If bad breath is persistent, and all other medical and dental factors have been ruled out, specialized testing and treatment is required. Hundreds of dental offices and commercial breath clinics now claim to diagnose and treat bad breath. They often use some of several laboratory methods for diagnosis of bad breath such as the Halimeter; Gas chromatography; BANA test; and β-galactosidase test

Management

Chronic halitosis is not well understood by most physicians and dentists, so effective treatment is not always easy to find. The following strategies may be suggested: Gently cleaning the tongue surface twice daily is the most effective way to keep bad breath in control; that can be achieved using a tooth brush, tongue cleaner or tongue brush/scraper to wipe off the bacterial biofilm, debris, and mucus.

Chewing gum; Gargling right before bedtime with an effective mouthwash ; Probiotic treatments, specifically Streptococcus salivarius K12 has been shown suppress malodor bacteria growth

Traditional remedies

According to traditional Ayurvedic medicine, chewing areca nut and betel leaf is an excellent remedy against bad breath.

Research

In 1996, the International Society for Breath Odor Research (ISBOR) was formed to promote multidisciplinary research on all aspects of breath odors.

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The festive season is here once again. The kiss. The smile. The breath. What’s most important to you (and to your significant other)? Chances are it’s good breath.

Let’s get personal. Bad breath (halitosis) may be common in dogs — but for people, bad breath affects how you feel about yourself, not to mention how others perceive you.

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