What an unpleasant and embarrassing condition! It becomes demeaning seeing people turning their faces away when you talk. More disparaging it is when the sufferer is not even aware of his/her condition and people around are either afraid or shy to tell them. Arguably, it is not a common norm to have a friend confident or bold enough to tell you the ‘emissions’ radiating from your buccal cavity is annoying, offensive and exceedingly noxious.
Bad breath or mouth odour, medically called halitosis, can result from poor dental health habits and may be a sign of other health problems. Bad breath can also be made worse by the types of foods you eat and other unhealthy lifestyle habits.
Generally caused by an accumulation of bacteria in the mouth; which causes inflammation and exude great foul smell. Basically, all the food eaten begins to be broken down in your mouth. If you eat foods with strong flavour (such as garlic or onions), brushing and flossing; even mouthwash merely covers up the odour temporarily. The odour will not go away completely until the foods have passed through your body.
If you don’t brush and floss teeth daily, food particles can remain in your mouth, promoting bacterial growth between teeth, around the gums, and on the tongue. This causes bad breath. In addition, odour-causing bacteria and food particles can cause bad breath if dentures are not properly cleaned.
Smoking or chewing tobacco-based products also can cause bad breath, stain teeth, reduce your ability to taste foods, and irritate your gum.
Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth may be a warning sign of gum (periodontal) disease. Gum disease is caused by the buildup of plaque on teeth. Bacteria cause the formation of toxins to form, which irritate the gums. If gum disease continues untreated, it can damage the gums and jawbone.
For some, mouth odour is a temporal issue that only rears its unfavorable trait in a rather unique way; such as when you just get out of bed in the morning, or after eating a pungent-releasing food. For many others, it is a recurring phenomenon regardless of whether the teeth is either brushed or flossed, rinsed with mouthwash or consistent eating of mint-releasing candies.
Other dental causes of bad breath include poorly fitting dental appliances, yeast infections of the mouth, and dental caries (cavities).
Xerostomia; the medical condition depicting dry mouth can also cause bad breath. Saliva is necessary to moisten the mouth, neutralize acids produced by plaque, and wash away dead cells that accumulate on the tongue, gums, and cheeks. If not removed, these cells decompose and can cause bad breath. Dry mouth may be a side effect of various medications, salivary gland problems, or continuous breathing through the mouth.
Medically, there are many other diseases, illnesses or medications that may cause bad breath. Respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis, chronic sinus infections, postnasal drip, diabetes, chronic acid, etc. are some of these medical conditions.
How to know if you have Bad Breath
1. Get a very good friend to be absolutely honest, but do make sure they are a true friend.
2. A simple test you can do yourself is to lick the inside of your wrist and wait for the saliva to dry. If the area you licked smells unpleasant, it is likely that your breath does too.
What Can I Do to Prevent Bad Breath
1. Practice good oral hygiene
Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove food debris and plaque. Brush teeth after you eat (keep a toothbrush at work or school to brush after lunch). Don’t forget to brush the tongue, too. Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months or after an illness. Use floss or an interdental cleaner to remove food particles and plaque between teeth once a day. Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash twice a day. Dentures should be removed at night and cleaned thoroughly before being placed in your mouth the next morning.
2. See your dentist regularly
Make effort to see your dentist at least twice a year. He or she will conduct an oral exam and professional teeth cleaning and will be able to detect and treat periodontal disease, dry mouth, or other problems that may be the cause of bad mouth odour.
3. Drink lots of water
Drinking water keeps your mouth moist and makes you produce more saliva, which in turn neutralises bad breath. Chewing gum (preferably sugarless) or sucking on candy (preferably sugarless) also stimulates the production of saliva, which helps wash away food particles and bacteria. Gums and mints containing xylitol are best.
4. Application of mouthwash
Some mouthwashes not only leave breath smelling minty, they contain some antiseptic agents, such as cetylpyridinium chloride (ask your dentist about which product is best for you), to reduce plaque and prevent gingivitis; which can also cause bad breath.
5. Regular intake of vegetables
Fibrous vegetables, such as celery and cucumbers boost saliva production; which ultimately washes away odour-causing bacteria. Crunchy vegetables help in removing plaque on teeth and gums, which bacteria can feed on.
6. Keep a log of the foods you eat
If you think they may be causing bad breath, bring the log to your dentist to review. Similarly, make a list of the medications you take. Some drugs may play a role in creating mouth odour.
7. Stop smoking and chewing tobacco-based products
Ask your dentist for tips in kicking out the habit.