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Since the dawning of time, humans have been very aware of the smelly condition of bad breath, or halitosis. Mentions of it have been found in the Jewish Talmud and discussed by Ancient Greek and Roman writers.

It is even said that the prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, had a congregant expelled from the mosque for having the smell of garlic on his breath.

People from every walk of life have been searching for the cure-all for bad personal odors. In Brazil, it is common to chew cinnamon. In Italy, they chew parsley. In Thailand, guava peel leaves a refreshing taste and eliminates foul smells. In Iraq, cloves are used; in Eastern Asia, aniseed.

What Causes Halitosis?

Halitosis is created by the release of volatile sulfur into the atmosphere when you exhale. These compounds contain sulfur and include hydrogen sulfide and methyl marcaptan.

Truth be told, most mints and gums do nothing more than mask the offensive odor. These provide only temporary solutions. In order to get rid of bad breath, its true cause must be established. The most common cause of bad breath is food that remains in the mouth between brushings. This food gets caught in between teeth and begins to rot, releasing offending odor when exhaled. This is why proper oral hygiene is so important, including daily flossing and brushing.

Only your dentist can determine whether halitosis is the result of bad oral habits or something more serious. Causes of bad breath include a wide array of conditions, medically and from personal habits. Typically, the types of foods consumed: garlic, onions, cheese and dairy will leave an unpleasant odor. During the digestion process these foods release offensive gases. These gases can be released for up to 24 hours after initial consumption.

Likewise, any food left partially undigested in the stomach begins to release distasteful odors. The senior population is especially susceptible to this. With age, the body begins to have more and more difficulty breaking down the contents of a meal.

Far rarer are certain medical conditions that would cause bad breath. Afflictions such as sinusitis, diabetes and kidney problems can all result in seriously bad breath. Odors include the smell of rotting eggs, a fishy or ammonia smell (severe kidney failure) or the sweet smell of fruit (Diabetic ketoacidosis).

Some atypical causes of bad breath cannot be discounted, such as taking a large dose of vitamin supplements. Lifestyle choices can result in halitosis as well. Both smoking and drinking can contribute to dry mouth syndrome called xerostomia. The lack of saliva can also cause bad breath.

Let us not forget other conditions that cause discomfort in social situations that can only be diagnosed by a dentist. All of the following can give you bad breath: cavities, dental abscesses, impacted teeth, gingivitis or other forms of gum disease. Each of these can be easily remedied by your friendly neighborhood dentist. Chronic halitosis is a very real condition, for this and for general refreshing breath, there are a few products on the market that can help.

Getting Rid of Halitosis

A tongue scraper can aid in ridding your mouth of any unpleasant smells coming from your tongue (not to mention the boost to your social life). Over-the-counter products: breath sprays, mints or Altoids® sure won’t hurt. If the problem persists, ask your dentist about BreathRx® — a system of dental products: toothpaste, tongue scraper and mouthwash, that combines powerful ingredients (including eucalyptus oil) to make bad breath a thing of the past.

For fresh breath all the time, proper dental hygiene must be coupled with regular dental visits and any necessary dental treatment or gum disease treatment. For truly fresh breath, regular dental cleanings are a must.