Meaning of Bad Breath
Bad breath or halitosis is a persistent smell that oozes out of a person’s nostrils when he/she breathes. It is the third most common reason why people seek a dentist’s attention after gum disease and dental decay.
It is estimated that 1 in every 4 people suffer halitosis on a regular basis. Bad breath is a very sensitive topic that many people do not like to delve into. I mean, how many people would muster enough courage to say “your breath smells or your mouth seems to have this choking odour” to anyone? Only a few people can. That is why I chose to blog on bad breath, to educate you on what you need to know.
There are so many causes of halitosis, but the commonest cause of it is poor oral hygiene. Below are other causes of bad breath.
Causes of bad breath.
- Xerostomia or dry mouth- Dry Mouth is a condition where an individual always has little or no saliva in his/her mouth. Dry mouth is a prevalent cause of bad breath in the sense that a reduced production of saliva which is a natural cleansing agent in the mouth leads to bad breath. Dry mouth is very common among older people. It is not a natural part of aging but it occurs more in older people because of the many medications and over the counter(OTC) drugs most of them ingest. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-mouth/symptoms-causes/syc-20356048
- Drugs-Nitrate containing drugs and drugs used in chemotherapy cause bad breath as they are broken down. People that take vitamin supplements are very prone to developing bad breath too.
- Lodging of foreign bodies in the nasal cavity- This is found particularly in children who are totally unaware of the danger of putting anything into their noses. When these foreign bodies are lodged in the nasal cavities of children, after some time, they become moist. This encourages bacterial growth and after sometime bad breath begins.
- Ketoacididosis-This is a rare cause of bad breath in diabetic people. When their insulin level peaks and they are no longer able to use sugar, their body uses fat stores instead. When fats break down, ketones are produced. These ketones give off strong smells in the processor their breakdown which in turn leads to halitosis.
- Poor dental hygiene- This is why you are advised to see the dentist regularly. Many people do not really know how to brush their teeth properly. Some just wash the teeth and ignore the tongue. An unclean tongue harbours a film of bacteria known as plaques. Plaques can cause inflammation between the teeth and the gums. A condition known as periodontitis.
How can you detect your own bad breath?
A lot of people are obsessed with the smell of their breaths. This is called halitophobia. These people may have little or no mouth odour. So, how do you know if you have bad breath or not.
It is easy. Lick your wrist and let the spot you licked dry. When it is dry, put your nose to the spot. If you perceive an offensive odour, you likely have bad breath.
You should take cognizance of the fact that this test is not very reliable. Also, the kind of smell should be taken seriously as it could be symptom of a serious disease like aspiration pneumonia, bronchiecstasis and a whole lot of others.
Remedies for bad breath.
- Regularly brushing of teeth- Make sure to brush your teeth at least twice daily.
- Flossing- Flossing is an effective way to remove plaques from the tongue. (Brushing alone cleans just about 60% of the surface of the teeth)
- Learn to brush your tongue – the tongue is very delicate and it can house so much bacteria. People with dry mouth and smokers should pay a great amount of attention to their tongues. A tongue scraper would be very much helpful for this purpose.
- Drink lots of water- this reduces the occurrence of bad breath and keeps your mouth hydrated.
- Chew on sugar-free and mint containing gums- this stimulates the production of saliva which is a natural mouth cleansing agent.
- Avoid garlic, spicy foods and foods with strong smells.
If after all these measures and bad breath persists, it is advised that one sees a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.