Bad Breath or Halitosis

Bad breath, also known as halitosis is very embarrassing that results from poor oral hygiene and can be a sign of other illnesses.  Bad breath is made worse with the foods you eat and certain unhealthy lifestyles practices.

In many cases, bad breath condition can be improved by proper oral hygiene. If simple measures don’t resolve the condition, you need to see a physician or dentist.

Causes of Bad Breath

Bad breath usually begins in the mouth and there are several reasons behind this condition. They are as follows:

Food – Food particles in the mouth can cause bacterial growth and multiplication, resulting in bad odor. Foods like onions, cabbage, garlic, radish and certain spices cause bad breath. After digesting these foods, they enter into the bloodstream, from there to lungs and affect the breathing process.

Tobacco – Smoking and other tobacco products are responsible for causing gum diseases, which is also a source for bad breath.

Improper oral hygiene – Food particles remain in and around the teeth or mouth when proper brushing and flossing techniques are not implemented. A sticky, colorless film forms on the teeth (plaque), which later leads to gingivitis (gum inflammation) and periodontitis (gum disease). Also the uneven tongue surface can trap bacteria producing foul odors. Dentures that are not cleaned properly and regularly pave way to bacteria and food particles causing bad breath.

Dry Mouth – Saliva aids in cleaning the mouth by removing bad odor causing particles. Xerostomia, is a dry mouth condition which contributes to bad breath that results from decrease in saliva production. Dry mouth condition occurs usually during sleep, and makes you sleep with your mouth wide open. Certain medications, problems with salivary glands and a few disease conditions can also lead to chronic dry mouth.

Mouth Infections – Bad breath is also caused through surgical wounds that happen following oral surgery, like tooth removal, or due to mouth sores, gum disease or tooth decay.

Other conditions – Bad breath results from tiny stones formed in the tonsils, covered by bacteria producing odorous chemicals. Chronic inflammations or infections in the sinuses, nose, throat, can contribute to postnasal drip, leading to bad breath.

Medications – Certain medications indirectly contribute to bad breath by causing dry mouth. Some others are broken down in the body to release odor causing chemicals which are carried to breath.

Other causes – Disease conditions like cancers, metabolic disorders and gastroesophageal reflux disease cause a peculiar bad odor from the chemicals they produce. In young children, bad breath may result from any food particle or toy piece stuck in the nostril.

Treatment for Bad Breath

To abate bad breath, avoid bad odor causing lifestyle activities, lower risk of gum infections and practice proper oral hygiene. Further treatment depends on the cause. Here are dental measures that your physician or dentist may suggest or work with you to help you get control of the bad breath.

Toothpastes and Mouth rinses – If the cause of bad breath is plaque, i.e. bacterial build-up on the teeth, you may be recommended to use toothpastes which contain antibacterial agents. Also mouth washes containing chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride help prevent the bad odor in the mouth.

Dental disease treatment – If the cause in gum disease, you may be referred to a periodontist (gum specialist). Also the bacteria responsible for gum disease are cleaned through professional teeth cleaning. The physician may also recommend replacing faulty tooth restorations.

Prevention of Bad Breath

Bad breath can be prevented by following making some lifestyle changes. They include:

Maintain proper oral hygiene – Use fluoride containing toothpastes, brush twice a day, also make a habit of brushing teeth after eating. Brush your tongue too and replace brush every 2 – 3 months. Floss everyday to help remove plaque and food particles that stuck in between the teeth. If dentures are placed, remove them every night and clean thoroughly before placing them again the following morning.

Seek dentist help often – Go for dental check-ups once every 6 months. The dentist performs professional teeth cleaning and examines any oral problems that may be the cause of bad breath and treats accordingly.

Quit smoking and tobacco products – If it is harder for you to quit these habits, ask the dentist for some tips on kicking these habits.

Consume excess water – This can help your mouth to remain moist. Sucking on sugarless candies or chewing sugarless gums stimulates saliva production that helps to wash away bacteria and food particles.

Be aware of what you eat – If you are sure that some foods are contributing for bad breath, talk about them to the dentist. Similarly, note all the medications that are causing bad breath and bring it to the dentist to review.