Bad breath, or halitosis, is a very common problem that can be embarrassing and make one self-conscious.
There are many people with halitosis of various ages as bad breath and the associated bacteria can occur in almost any mouth.
Your dentist can help cure this problem by offering a treatment program for bad breath.
What Causes Bad Breath?
Studies have shown that bad breath typically begins when the waste produced by bacteria in the mouth, nose or stomach comes into contact with the air.
Nasal dysfunction such as a genetic abnormality in the nasal passage may inhibit proper mucus flow.
The bacteria found in sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses), post-nasal drip, and allergies may flow from the nose to the back of the tongue where it can lie dormant due to improper saliva flow or poor dental hygiene.
The bacteria that grow on the gums and between the teeth can lead to halitosis, tooth decay and gum disease (periodontics).
Biologists have found that there are numerous types of bacteria that contribute to halitosis that are present in other unpleasant odors, including the following:
- corpse scent (a combination of oxygen and sulfur compounds and/or nitrogen-containing gases such as cadaverine)
- decayed meat (putrescine)
- rotten egg stench (hydrogen sulfide)
- smelly feet (isovaleric acid)
- feces aroma (methyl mercaptan and skatole)
Who is Most Susceptible to Bad Breath?
- Those who have poor oral hygiene habits.
- Users of mouth appliances like braces and dentures.
- Smokers are prone to bad breath and gum disease (a contributor to bad breath).
- Certain medical conditions may cause bad breath such as tooth decay, impacted teeth, abscessed teeth, periodontal disease, alcoholism, uncontrolled diabetes, kidney disease, sinusitis, throat and lung infections (such as bronchitis), post-nasal drip, allergies and dry mouth (xerostomia).
- Dry mouth can be caused by medications that inhibit saliva flow leading to halitosis. These may include certain vitamin supplements, antihistamines, calcium blockers, cardiac medications, blood pressure pharmaceuticals and psychiatric drugs.
- A poor diet may lead to bad breath, including foods such as diet soda, onions, spices, garlic, curry, cabbage, and coffee.
Bad Breath Prevention
Halitosis can be reduced or prevented if you take care of your mouth and gums. The following is a list of steps you can take to fight the onset of bad breath:
1. Practicing good oral hygiene such as brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste will remove food debris and plaque.
Brushing after eating and flossing daily helps to remove food particles and plaque between your teeth.
If you wear dentures they should be removed at night and cleaned thoroughly before being placed in your mouth the next morning.
2. Maintain regular check-ups as recommended by your dentist. Most dentists recommend a regular check-up at least twice a year for an oral examination and professional teeth cleaning.
During these check-ups your dentist will check for any oral problems such as periodontal disease, dry mouth, or other problems that may be the cause of bad mouth odor.
3. Avoid smoking/chewing tobacco-based products.
4. Drinking lots of water, chewing gum (sugarless) or sucking hard candy (sugarless) keeps your mouth moist and stimulates the production of saliva, which helps wash away food particles and bacteria.
5. If you think the foods you are eating may cause bad breath keep of a record of them and your dentist will let you know if they may be the cause of your bad breath.
Additionally make a list of any medications you are taking as these too may contribute to bad breath.
If you maintain good oral hygiene practices but still suffer from halitosis then you should consult with your dentist to help you remedy the situation. There are many different treatment options that will cure your unique situation.