What is Bad Breath?
Bad breath is a common problem that can cause significant psychological distress. There are a number of potential causes and treatments available. Anyone can suffer from bad breath; it is estimated that 1 in 4 people have bad breath on a regular basis. Halitosis is the third most common reason that people seek dental care (after tooth decay and gum disease. The most common cause of bad breath is poor dental hygiene. As bacteria break down particles of food, sulfur compounds are produced that cause odor.
Simple home remedies and lifestyle changes, such as improved dental hygiene and quitting smoking can often remove the issue. If bad breath persists, however, it is advisable to visit a doctor or dental hygienist to check for underlying causes. Bad breath, also known as halitosis or fetor oris, affects an estimated 25% of people, globally. There are a number of potential causes of halitosis but the vast majority come down to oral hygiene.
There are no statistics on what percentage of the population has bad breath. That’s because studies usually rely on someone reporting whether or not they think they have bad breath and may not be accurate.
But studies show that about 80% of bad breath comes from an oral source. For instance, cavities can lead to bad breath, as can tonsils that have trapped food particles; cracked fillings, and less-than-clean dentures.
Several internal medical conditions also can cause your breath to go downhill fast. They include diabetes, liver disease, respiratory tract infections, and chronic bronchitis. You’ll want to see your doctor to rule out things like acid reflux and other causes of chronic dry mouth (xerostomia).
Avoid breath busters such as garlic, onions, and some other spicy foods. Chronic garlic users cannot only have chronic bad breath, they also often have body odor.
Potential causes of bad breath include as listed from the below,
- Tobacco:Tobacco products cause their own types of mouth odor. Additionally, they increase the chances of gum disease which can also cause bad breath
- Food:Food particles stuck in the teeth can cause odors. Some foods such as onions and garlic can also cause bad breath. They are carried in the blood to the lungs where they can affect the breath
- Dry mouth:Saliva naturally cleans the mouth. If the mouth is naturally dry (for instance, in the morning) or is dry due to a specific disease, odors can build up
- Dental hygiene: A film of bacteria called plaque builds up if brushing is not regular. This plaque can irritate the gums and cause pockets of build-up between the teeth and gums. Dentures that are not cleaned regularly or properly can also harbor bacteria that cause halitosis.
- Crash diets:Fasting and low-carbohydrate eating programs can produce halitosis; this is due to the breakdown of fats producing chemicals called ketones. These ketones have a strong odor.
- Mouth, nose and throat conditions:Small bacteria covered stones can form on the tonsils at the back of the throat (tonsillitis) and produce odor. Infections in the nose, throat or sinuses can cause halitosis
- Foreign body:Bad breath (especially in children) can be caused if they have a foreign body lodged in their nasal cavity.
Care and Treatment:
To reduce bad breath, help avoid cavities and lower your risk of gum disease, consistently practice good oral hygiene. Further treatment for bad breath can vary, depending on the cause. Other lifestyle and home remedies for bad breath include:
- Brush/ Floss teeth:brush at least twice a day, but preferably after each meal. Flossing reduces the build-up of food particles and plaque from between the teeth
- Clean dentures/ bridges:anything that goes into your mouth – dentures, bridge – should be cleaned as recommended on a daily basis. Cleaning prevents the bacteria from building up and being transferred back into the mouth. Changing toothbrush every 2-3 months is also important for similar reasons
- Brush tongue:bacteria, food and dead cells commonly build up on the tongue, especially in smokers or those with a particularly dry mouth. Sometimes, a tongue scraper can be useful
- Avoid dry mouth:drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol and tobacco, both of which dehydrate the mouth. Chewing gum or sucking a sweet (preferably sugar-free) can help stimulate the production of saliva. If the mouth is chronically dry, a doctor may prescribe medication that stimulates the flow of saliva
If your breath condition is due to mouth problems, make sure to consult your dentist immediately. It is recommended that an individual visits a doctor for further tests to rule out other conditions.