When Bad Breath Signifies Other Diseases
Dating back to antiquity, it has been understood that bad breath can signify more than just a particularly pungent food that was just eaten. Certain chemicals present in our breath can actually correspond to certain diseases that are taking place in our body.
Our breath is naturally filled with hundreds of volatile organic compounds as a result of by-products that are created during metabolism. When our body has a disease, it switches up the chemical composition of these compounds. For example, if ammonia is present in the breath, it may indicate kidney disease. Different chemicals correspond to different diseases, and research teams are currently in the process of developing sensors that can pick up on the presence of these chemicals. This technology is similar to that used in a breathalyzer to detect alcohol in intoxicated drivers. While not currently available commercially, the technology behind it is very promising.
A disease that is well known to cause bad breath is gum disease. The halitosis caused by gum disease is caused by the proliferation of bacteria that build up in the mouth as plaque and tartar accumulate. The bacteria can hide between the teeth, below the gumline, and in grooves on the tongue. In its earliest stage, gum disease is referred to as gingivitis. At this point, gum disease is highly treatable and even reversible. If allowed to progress, it can develop into periodontitis. This advanced stage of gum disease usually requires periodontal treatments involving surgery in order to halt the further destruction of the gums and teeth. So if you notice that you are starting to develop bad breath, it may be time to visit a dentist for an exam and cleaning.
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