Bad breath, also called halitosis, is a condition in which the mouth smells bad due to bacterial accumulation. Many products are available in the market that fights halitosis effectively but only temporarily. This condition is primarily caused by poor oral hygiene and bacterial growth.
Let us learn more about the causes of halitosis and some preventive measures.
1. Foods and beverages
Some foods that contribute to halitosis are foods that generally smell bad. While others are the ones that favour bacterial and microbial growth. The impact is such that even after a person has finished eating the food article, the mouth and breath continue to smell bad, even after hours of consumption. Some examples of such food articles are vegetables like garlic, onions, etc., Beverages like coffee, alcohol, tea, etc. create an environment in which bacteria can multiply easily, ultimately causing bad breath. These food items are best avoided if a patient wants to reduce or prevent halitosis.
2. Tobacco chewing
Tobacco products like cigarettes, tobacco powder, etc. are known to cause various dental and oral diseases like oral cancer, periodontal diseases, tooth decay, etc. But it is a lesser-known fact that tobacco also causes bad breath. After consumption, tobacco, and cigarettes leave behind a chemical compound in the mouth that reacts with saliva and causes odour in the mouth. Also, cigarette consumption leaves the mouth dry, and it decreases saliva production, leading to halitosis.
3. Infections and diseases
Sometimes bad breath is caused not due to lack of maintenance or unhealthy consumption, but because of genetic or non-hereditary diseases and infections. Respiratory infections like bronchitis, postnatal drip, etc. can cause bad breath.
Whereas, diseases like diabetes can also possibly cause bad breath. Some cancers and metabolic disorders involve the secretion of chemicals that are responsible for bad breath.
Xerostomia is described as a dry mouth condition, where the mouth cannot produce enough saliva to keep the mouth lubricated and free of germs. It is not a disease but a condition that is a side effect of various medicines or drugs. Dry mouth can worsen if the patient sleeps with the mouth open.
Saliva has to help properties like antimicrobial activity, and germicidal activity that can kill odour-causing bacteria and germs. The lack of it can promote halitosis as no germicidal activity will be present when there is no saliva. Along with genocidal and bactericidal properties, saliva also provides PH balance and re-mineralization.
Xerostomia is extremely common in elder people as the people in that age group are generally prescribed a lot of medications. To treat halitosis because of Xerostomia, over-the-counter medications are prescribed, salivary stimulants can be taken, and avoiding overly spicy foods, etc. are good ways to manage Xerostomia symptoms.
5. Poor dental hygiene
If you do not practice a good oral health routine, it may be the reason why you are experiencing foul breath. A lack of a good dental routine can cause an accumulation of food particles in the mouth that can eventually rot and form plaque and cause tooth decay. The tongue can also catch this plaque and cause odour and unpleasant taste.
Practicing dental hygiene practices like flossing, brushing twice a day, and using good anti-bacterial mouthwashes, etc. daily is a good idea to prevent bad breath.
6. Acid reflux
The backward flow of stomach contents towards the throat and mouth is called acid reflux. It is also known as GERD. It irritates food pipes and is mainly caused due to overeating. Foods and beverages like alcohol, citrus fruits, fatty, and oily foods contribute most to acid reflux. The backflow of such food particles can cause bad breath.
7. Gum disease or periodontitis
Periodontitis is a disease in which the soft tissue of the gum is damaged and without treatment, it can also destroy the jaw bone. It is extremely common and is generally caused due to poor oral hygiene. It can contribute to bad breath as tartar and plaque formation also takes place during a gun disease. The best way to avoid it is through the maintenance of oral health and hygiene and regular dental check-ups.
For treatment of gum disease, the patient is recommended a periodontal cleaning. It helps in soothing inflammation in the gum line and automatically reduces halitosis.
How to get rid of bad breath
No one likes a foul-smelling breath so here are some ways in which you can get rid of bad breath.
Your dentist may recommend anti-bacterial and anti-microbial mouthwashes to prevent the growth of microbes and germs that promote bad breath. Toothpaste that contains fluoride and anti-bacterial agents is also recommended to kill microbes.
Receiving proper dental care
If you have found out that the bad breath is a symptom of a severe dental disease like periodontitis, you should receive the proper treatment for the disease and should observe if the bad breath disappears.
Dental bridges and dentures should be cleaned properly with mouthwash or running water. They should be cleaned at least once a day. If the patient uses retainers, they should be washed every time the patient wears them again after removal.
Avoid smelly foods
Avoid any food articles that have a strong smell. Vegetables like onion and garlic are recommended to be avoided by halitosis patients as both these leave the mouth smelling foul and tasting bad.
To avoid and fight bad breath, it is very necessary to maintain good oral health. For this purpose, having a good toothbrush that reaches every corner of the mouth is necessary. It is recommended to change toothbrushes every 3-4 months.
Regularly visit the dentist
Halitosis patients are suggested to regularly visit the dentist and get their teeth checked. However, it is not enough to merely visit the dentist, the patient must describe when and how their breath started smelling bad, if there is any other symptom other than bad breath, etc.
If you feel that your breath smells bad, consult your dentist right away. You don’t have to live with this problem and suffer silently.