Halitosis (hahl-ih-TOE-sihs), or 'bad breath,' can be caused by tooth decay, gum disease, dry mouth, sinus or respiratory infections, medical disorders, medications, or poor oral hygiene habits. Your dentist can help determine the problem, treat the condition, or refer you to a medical doctor. Daily brushing and flossing and regular trips to your dentist can help prevent the tooth decay and gum disease that can cause halitosis. If your condition is due to a buildup of plaque, your dentist may recommend using an antimicrobial (an-tie-my-KROW-bee-uhl) mouth rinse and suggest that you remove excess plaque by brushing your tongue while brushing your teeth. Another cause of halitosis is gum disease, which occurs when your gums pull away from your teeth and pockets of bacteria form. When these pockets are deep, regular brushing isn't enough to remove the plaque; a professional cleaning is needed. Bad breath is also caused by dry mouth, which occurs when saliva is decreased due to a variety of reasons. Saliva is needed to cleanse your mouth naturally and remove particles that can cause odor. Your dentist may prescribe artificial saliva, suggest sucking on sugarless hard candy, or increase your fluid intake. Halitosis can be an embarrassing problem; however, by following your dentist's or medical doctor's suggestions, you can alleviate the problem or learn how to control it.
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