Halitosis or bad breath is a common condition encountered by many adults as well as children across the globe. It is a serious problem that has plagued mankind for centuries. Most of the time, the person is even not aware that he has bad breath and is often told by others about it. It is an embarrassing condition because we human beings are social animals.
Having bad odor creates an impression of bad hygiene on others. It also imparts the feeling of low self-esteem, and the affected person experiences discomfort while speaking when someone is close to him. Thus, it is not just a physical condition but also impacts the person psychologically. This has led to another problem called halitophobia – fear of bad breath. Individuals suffering from halitosis are quite conscious about their mouth odor, even when they have none. These people will practice extreme dental hygiene and would insist on the dentists to treat them for bad breath, even when they won’t have one.
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Causes of Halitosis:
Here are some common causes of bad breath or halitosis.
- Bad oral hygiene: This is one of the most common reasons for halitosis. Our mouth is a host to a large number of bacteria. They flourish on the back of our tongue, between the teeth, and at the junction between the cheeks and jaw. When we eat, tiny bits of food particles remain in these areas and get decomposed by bacteria, thereby releasing Sulphur compounds that cause bad odor from mouth. Also, if one wears dentures or braces, food gets stuck in it causing bad breath.
- Dry mouth: Saliva helps to keep our mouth moist and washes the food particles stuck in the mouth. Also, it has certain chemicals that damage the bacterial walls, thus controls their overgrowth. Due to conditions, such as sleeping, long hours of fasting, and Dry Mouth Syndrome, and certain disorders of salivary glands, the secretion of saliva is reduced resulting in the overgrowth of bacteria, thereby leading to bad breath.
- Certain foods: The volatile oils in certain types of foods, such as raw onion, garlic, and vegetables like Horseradish, diffuse in the bloodstream and travel to the lungs causing bad breath. Cheese also causes bad breath.
- Dental conditions: Dental cavities, plaque, pyorrhea pus from gums, oral thrush, and tonsillar stones cause bad breath.
- Respiratory conditions: Respiratory conditions, such as coryza, sinusitis, continuous postnasal drip, throat infection, and some more, can cause bad breath. The odor can be more like cheese with patients having a history of having thick mucus discharge from the nose. Children and adults who breathe through their mouth could have bad breath. Also, the patients with lung infections who constantly cough and spit mucus may suffer from it.
- Diseases of the digestive tract: Diseases of food pipe and acid reflux can cause bad breath.
- Metabolic disorders: There are a few metabolic disorders that can make the person suffer from bad breath. These include diabetes, where the breath smells like acetone, kidney failure, liver failure, and Trimethylaminuria, which results in fish odor in the breath.
- Smoking and alcohol intake: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption reduce the flow of saliva resulting in bad breath.
- Certain medications: Medications, such as certain antiallergics, anti-diuretics, high blood pressure medications, steroids, antidepressants, and some more, reduce the flow of saliva and cause dry mouth, thereby leading to the development of bad breath.
How Can One Correct Bad Breath?
In ancient times, various herbs were used to get rid of the bad breath. In modern times, we use mint gums, lozenges, mouth fresheners, and mouth wash to keep our breath fresh. However, these are only temporary solutions to mask the bad odor. For long-lasting results, one has to identify the underlying cause of bad breath and correct it.
Here are some basic oral hygiene tips to follow to keep bad breath at bay.
- Brushing the teeth properly twice a day, flossing once a day, and scraping the back of your tongue gently with a toothbrush or tongue scraper can help you keep breath fresh.
- Rinse mouth properly after eating to remove the particles stuck between the teeth.
- Gargling with warm water and salt can prevent bacterial overgrowth.
- Sip water often.
- Avoid eating strong-smelling foods.
- Avoid eating junk and processed foods, which easily stick to the teeth.
- Have regular dental checkups.
- Visit the doctor to diagnose and treat the underlying health issues.
Certain homeopathic medicines, such as Merc Sol, Pulsatilla, Kali Mur, Kreosote, Baptisia, Arnica, China, Chelidonium, and Antim Tart are commonly prescribed for bad breath. These medicines act best when prescribed according to their symptom similarity. To know more about how we can help you for your bad breath click here (link for chat with Dr on website)
- Written by Dr. Yafta Saiyad, Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah