Posts tagged: bad breath

What Causes Bad Breath?

It’s estimated that 85% to 90% of cases of bad breath or halitosis are down to bacteria living in the mouth. Bacteria consume food left in the mouth and excrete waste products, some of which are sulfur compounds. These compounds, called volatile sulfur compounds by dentists, are usually the reason for bad breath.

However not all of the waste products are sulfurous, as some have their own highly individual smells. These create odours which can mimic the smell of rotting meat, or worse. This is not very nice, but luckily these waste products are generally present at low levels and cannot be easily detected until these levels become elevated.

These waste products are produced by anaerobic oral bacteria which thrive in oxygen depleted environments. Even a thin layer of dental plaque can create ideal conditions for anaerobic bacteria. Although anaerobic bacteria will make a meal of just about anything, they do prefer high protein foods, and the worst offenders for causing bad breath are meat and fish which are easily trapped in between teeth, as well as to a lesser extent, dairy foods, pulses, nuts and cereal grains. In fact, many of the ingredients in deserts can be surprisingly high in protein.

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Gum Disease May Mean More Than Just Bad Breath

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention1, 43% of Americans will have lost at least six teeth by the age of 65, and many of these teeth will have been lost due to periodontal disease. Another 18% have lost all their teeth. While this statistic is extremely grim, periodontal disease has much wider implications for overall health, and one of the earliest signs of periodontal disease can be persistent bad breath.

Although it’s upsetting to have bad breath, it is one of the mildest side-effects of gum disease. Gum disease is a potentially serious condition, and clinical studies have shown that gum disease, or periodontal disease, generally develops as a result of poor oral hygiene. Japan’s Kyushu Dental College2 has done extensive research into the causes of bad breath, and has identified the microbes responsible for causing this somewhat antisocial condition.

They examined 101 adult volunteers, some of whom were suffering from periodontal disease while others had healthy mouths. By analyzing saliva samples from the group, the research team was able to identify species of a microbe called Bacteroides forsythus, which is normally found deep under the gum line in cases of advanced periodontal disease. This microbe is strongly correlated with bad breath. While this is interesting, it’s important to remember that poor oral health can have far more serious ramifications for your overall health. Read more »

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