Having bad breath ( halitosis) is one of the most embarrassing conditions that a person can have. It makes a person self-conscious and affects their social lifestyle in that the person tends to isolate themselves from others in a social setting. Also, some relationships have broken due to a lack of social interaction. However, bad breath shouldn’t be the end of the world since you can generally treat this condition.
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The causes of bad breath
Bad breath can be due to many factors but let us examine them.
1. Oral hygiene
Most bad breath occurs due to the build-up of bacteria in the mouth. When leftover food accumulates in the teeth or gums, bacteria in the mouth starts breaking down this food, causing a foul smell. The bacteria will then reproduce rapidly, covering your whole mouth, including the tongue, teeth, and gums.
The inflammation of the gums( gingivitis) is caused by the bacteria forming a thin film called plaque between the teeth and the gums and can lead to gum disease( periodontal ). Periodontal disease occurs when plaque hardens, forming tartar. Over time the tartar causes cracks on the tooth’s enamel or spaces between the teeth and the gums. Food particles can collect in these cracks and spaces, and when they decompose, they give off a foul odor.
That can also cause teeth decay and abscess and further causing this causes terrible odor.
Furthermore, bacteria can build up on the surface and back of the tongue where food particles can stick or be trapped, making the breath odor even worse.
Also, dentures can be a source of bad breath if not cleaned well daily.
2. Dry mouth
When the mouth is dry, the bacteria can multiply rapidly, causing bad breath. That is quite noticeable for people who tend to sleep with their mouth open and wake up with a dry mouth – commonly known as ‘morning breath. Saliva is the mouth effectively reduces the bacteria forming in the mouth by neutralizing the acid produced by bacteria.
Also, people who have a condition with reduced saliva tend to suffer from bad breath.
3. Respiratory Diseases
Bad breath can also signify that some have respiratory diseases like inflamed, blocked sinuses, inflamed tonsillitis. For example, tonsillitis stones are areas bacteria will collect and multiply rapidly, causing bad breath.
4. Underlying medical conditions
Other diseases that may cause bad breath include diabetes, liver, kidney, digestive diseases like acid reflux and vomiting. It has been noted that people who have diabetes tend to have a ‘fruity breath.
Some medicines, e.g., the ones that treat diabetes, can also cause bad breath. For example, the diuretic medications dehydrate the body of water, which causes reduced saliva in the mouth, causing bad breath.
Stress has been linked to people having breath. That is because stress hormones produce chemicals carried over in the bloodstream through the lungs and then exhaled.
7. Food and drinks
Certain strong-smelling foods like garlic and onions are well known to cause people to have bad breath. Because the food eaten goes to the stomach and is digested, the sulfur compounds in these foods are released into the bloodstream. The sulfur compounds in these foods remain in the blood for a while, and as the blood goes to the lungs, the air exhaled will contain these oils, causing a bad breath.
Likewise, when you drink alcohol, the body takes a while to get rid of it through exhaling from the lungs. Alcohol also dehydrates the body and dries the mouth causing bad breath.
Smoking cigarettes or cigars causes the mouth to dry, and the oils from the cigarette smoke will remain in the mouth and on the respiratory tract for some time, causing bad breath.
9. Crash diets
People who embark on a crash diet to reduce their weight have suffered from bad breath. That is because fasting and low-carb diets lead to the breakdown of fat-producing chemicals called ketones which have a strong odor.
How to prevent bad breath?
1. Plenty of water
Drinking plenty of water will help moisten the mouth, flush out leftover food from the teeth, gums, and tongue, and hydrate the body. Water hydrates the body and stimulates the body to produce more saliva, which reduces the growth of odor-producing bacteria in the mouth. Saliva will neutralize the acid from bacteria.
2. Good oral hygiene habits.
Brush and floss your teeth after every meal or at least twice a day in the morning and evening to remove any leftover food and prevent plaque formation between the teeth or gums.
It would be best if you changed your toothbrush every three months to be sure that it can brush the teeth effectively.
3. Chew sugarless gum
Chewing sugarless promotes the production of saliva. It helps in reducing the acidity of the plaque, kills the bacteria, and moistens the mouth.
4. Lifestyle changes
Alcohol consumption dehydrates the body, and this will cause the mouth to be dry. The morning hangover is the worst thing to have after heavy drinking and the bad breath that it accompanies. Therefore, moderate drinking is advisable as it reduces bad breath.
Also, if you are changing your diet to lose weight, please make sure it is supervised and monitored by a qualified professional so as not to have a side effect of bad breath.
How to treat bad breath?
1. Daily Brushing of teeth.
It would be best if you brushed your teeth after every meal or at least twice a day in the morning and the evening. You should thoroughly brush your teeth to make sure that there is no leftover food in the gums.
The tongue should also be cleaned using the tongue scraper, and the back was brushed to clear off the odor-producing bacteria.
Good oral hygiene habits will prevent gum diseases that cause bad breath.
Flossing should be done daily to remove all the food particles from the gums. That will also prevent the formation of plaque hence reduce lousy breath.
3. Regular dental checkup
it would be best if you did a dental checkup at least twice a year.
A dentist will be able to remove the plaque and check for gum diseases. Also, dentists can polish your teeth to remove any discoloration due to smoking or other causes.
While checking for the cause of the bad breath, a dentist might diagnose the root canal infection and make a referral to the endodontist who will perform a dental procedure to prevent infection and manage pain. First, the cavities and pulp will be cleaned and disinfected, and filled with inert material. Depending on your budget, the dentist can then put fillings or a dental crown.
Other cosmetic procedures can also be offered, like dental implants if the tooth can not be saved.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, bad breath can be caused by poor oral hygiene, underlying medical conditions, medicines, stress, food and alcohol, and lifestyle. However, in the majority of the cases, oral hygiene has been the cause of bad breath. The dentists can help diagnose the real cause of the bad breath and will assist in helping you in getting the bad breath. Alternatively, the dentist can refer you to the most appropriate clinical professional to help you.