Halitosis is the medical term used to describe what we generally call “bad breath.” Halitosis is a very embarrassing condition, which often results from poor dental hygiene and sometimes from some health problems, and is also worsened by certain foods and lifestyle habits. If you ever feel like people shift away from you when you talk to them or whisper in their ears, then just maybe you have some funny odor wafting out of your mouth. But don’t fret, today Face2FaceAfrica will let you know what you can do about it…so sit back, learn, and grab a pen if you need to.
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Symptoms of Bad Breath
Most times, people with bad breath don’t even know they suffer from it because they fail to take note of the symptoms, or sometimes, their symptoms are only temporary. Common symptoms of bad breath include:
- Foul or weird mouth odor,
- Bad or sour taste when you eat,
- Dry mouth,
- A coating on the tongue.
In children and infants who can’t really take note of symptoms, though, bad breath may be a sign of an infection or an undiagnosed medical problem. Please consult a dentist or physician if an infant or young child has bad breath.
Causes of Bad breath
There are so many causes of bad breath, ranging from the ones starting in the mouth to those coming from within your body system. Some of these causes include:
- Food. When you eat, your food is broken down to an extent in your mouth through chewing. Chewing causes food particles to remain in and around the teeth; the decomposition of these food particles in turn attracts bacteria. The decaying food particles and the action of the bacteria on them can cause a foul odor.
Sometimes too, the types of foods we eat also affect our breath, e.g., onions, garlic, spices, and even coffee. After you consume such foods, they enter your blood stream, and by circulation, they get to the lungs where their smell wafts out in your breath.
- Bad Dental Hygiene. It is important to brush your teeth and floss daily in order to remove food particles from between and around your teeth. Failure to do this will attract bacteria as discussed above. In addition to acting on the food particles, the bacteria form a sticky, colourless, or whitish film (known as plaque) on and between your teeth. This also adds to bad breath.
- Tobacco. In addition to stained teeth, gum diseases, and tooth decay, the smoking and chewing of tobacco causes a characteristic unpleasant mouth odor.
- Infections. Bad breath can also be caused by mouth infections, such as gum diseases, sores, tooth decay, and even with surgical wounds after oral surgery (tooth removal).
Infections of other organs in the ear-nose-throat system can also lead to bad breath, e.g. the tonsils, sinuses, and nose.
- Dry mouth. Also known as xerostomia is a condition, where there’s inadequate production of saliva in the mouth. This contributes to bad breath because, in this situation, saliva which normally helps to moisten the mouth, neutralize the acids from plaque, cleanse the mouth, and wash away food particles and dead cells of the gums, cheeks, and tongue is decreased. Therefore the mouth is again a free-for-all for bacteria.
Dry mouth can also result from the use of certain medications, sleeping with your mouth open, and from some diseases of the salivary glands.
- Dentures. Dental appliances, such as braces and dentures, can contribute to bad breath, and very often, it is due to food particles that are not properly cleansed from the appliances. Wearing ill-fitting dentures can lead to mouth and dental sores and infections in the mouth, which can cause bad breath too.
- Other diseases that can cause bad breath. These include diabetes, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD), liver or kidney disease, and lactose intolerance.
What Can You Do To Prevent Bad Breath?
- Practice good oral/dental hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste to remove food debris and building plaque. It is advisable to brush teeth after you eat – I know this sounds funny when you have to eat lunch at work or school but you can keep a toothbrush in your bag or briefcase to use after lunch. Use floss to remove food particles and plaque between teeth once a day – you can do this before bed at night. For people that use dentures, they should be removed at night and cleaned thoroughly before reuse the next morning.
- Don’t forget your tongue. While brushing, don’t forget to brush your tongue as well — this helps to scrape off dead cells and bacteria.
- Change your toothbrush regularly. It is recommended that toothbrushes should be changed every two to three months.
- See your dentist regularly. You should visit your dentist at least every six months to have your teeth and/or dentures checked and examined thoroughly. This will help you avoid or detect any problems very early. If you already suffer from bad breath, try to keep a log of the foods you eat and medications you use. If you think they may be adding to your bad breath, take this log to your dentist to review, and he or she will advise you accordingly.
- Adjust your diet and lifestyle. Try to quit smoking and chewing tobacco-based products. Drink loads of water as this will keep to your mouth moist. Avoid sugary foods and foods that contribute to bad breath.
The outcome in situations of bad breath is generally good as the condition is usually more of a nuisance than a serious medical illness, and really in most cases, you can improve or eliminate bad breath with consistent and proper oral hygiene. If, however, you have bad breath and these simple home care tips don’t help you, please see your dentist or physician to be sure it’s not due to a more serious condition.
Avoid being an odoriferous hazard today…keep your mouths healthy, folks!
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