Bad breath, medically called halitosis, can result from poor dental health habits but 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.
All food eaten begins to be broken down in your mouth. As foods are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, they are eventually carried to your lungs and given off in your breath. If you eat foods with strong odors (such as garlic or onions), brushing and flossing — even mouthwash — merely covers up the odour temporarily. The odor 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. Antibacterial mouth rinses also can help reduce bacteria.
Smoking or chewing tobacco-based products also can cause bad breath, stain teeth, reduce your ability to taste foods and irritate your gums.
What Causes Bad Breath
Improper brushing and flossing allows the food to decay in the mouth and produce bad odour.
Infections in the mouth: like gingivitis (inflammation of gums), periodontitis (advanced gum disease) , abscess (puss ) can lead to bad odour.
Throat or sinus infections, lung infections, polyps, foreign bodies.
Like onion, garlic, coffee, cigarette smoking, tobacco chewing. Dry mouth or Xerostomia
Diabetes, kidney disease, lung disease.
Some people believe that they have bad breath, but others may not notice it. This is called as PSEUDOHALITOSIS.
How to Prevent and Treat Bad Breath
Poor oral hygiene is the most important cause of bad breath. So, it is very important to maintain proper oral hygiene to prevent halitosis. It requires following things:
Brushing – Most important measure for controlling bad breath is proper brushing of teeth twice daily after breakfast and before going to bed. A toothbrush with soft bristles and small head should be chosen which will reach most posterior areas of the oral cavity.
The method of brushing should be correct when brushing teeth. For proper brushing of teeth, the brush should be placed at an angle of 45° to the gingival surface of teeth and should be rolled downwards. All the surfaces of all the teeth in both the arches should be brushed thoroughly.
Flossing – of the teeth is also very important for stopping bad breath. It should be done once weekly in order to to remove interdental plaque and food deposits. It should be done with the proper technique otherwise unnecessary damage can occur to gingiva.
Mouth Washes – Mouthwashes also help to a great extent in stopping the bad breath. Mouthwashes containing agents that destroy microbes and/or neutralize VSCs can be used. Mouthwashes containing zinc and cetylperidium act as anantibacterial and thus destroy bacteria which produce foul smelling substances. Mouthwash should be used after thoroughly brushing and flossing the teeth i.e. after plaque removal because mouthwashes cannot penetrate plaque. Mouthwash should be gargled and then spit out. This brings the back portion of tongue in contact with mouthwash where most of the bacteria are present.
Tongue cleaning is also very important for stopping bad breath. The tongue should be cleaned properly especially the back portion using a toothbrush or a tongue scraper. It is better to use a tongue scraper/cleaner as toothbrush may cause irritation.
Scaling and Polishing – Scaling and polishing of teeth by a dentist should be done every six months or as recommended by the dentist for removal of calcified deposits on the teeth.
Cleaning Dentures and Orthodontic Appliances – If a patient wears removable dentures or orthodontic appliances, they should be cleaned properly after every meal to minimize food accumulation and plaque formation. Dentures should be removed at night and be kept in an antiseptic solution.
Drinking Water – People with bad breath should drink 7-8 glasses of water to maintain adequate hydration and prevent dryness of mouth.
Diet – also plays an important role in bad breath prevention. Volatile Sulphur Compounds (VSCs) are mostly the waste products of proteins. So, bad breath is more common after eating protein rich food such as meat, fish and milk products. Therefore it is more important to maintain proper oral hygiene after consuming protein rich diet.
Chewing Gums – Chewing sugar free gum to stimulate secretion of saliva in patients suffering from Xerostomia may reduce dryness of mouth and hence reduces halitosis.
Last but not the least, medical evaluation of any systemic condition causing halitosis should be made and proper treatment should be undergone.
What Health Problems Are Associated With Bad Breath?
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 the teeth. Bacteria cause the formation of which irritate the gums. If gum disease continues untreated, it can damage the gums and jawbone.
Other dental causes of bad breath include poorly fitting dental appliances, yeast infections of the mouth, and dental caries (cavities).
The medical condition, dry mouth (also called xerostomia) can 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 taking various medications, salivary gland problems, or continuous breathing through the mouth.
Many other diseases and illnesses may cause bad breath. Here are some to be aware of: respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis, chronic sinus infections, postnasal drip, diabetes, chronic acid reflux, and liver or kidney problems.