Halitosis is also referred to as bad breath in layman’s term. Having bad breath can be embarrassing and may sometimes cause anxiety. Bad breath is commonly experienced by people. In fact, 1 in every 15 people experiences halitosis on a regular basis.
Halitosis has a number of potential causes. Aside from tooth decay, cavities, and gum problems, halitosis is also a common complaint of people who seek dental care.
Having occasional bad breath is experienced by many people. However, when bad breath becomes persistent even after using quick fixes, it may indicate that something is not right in your body. Some of the causes of bad breath may include:
1. Infections in the Nose, Mouth, and Throat
Bad breath can be caused by nose, sinus, and throat infections that can lead to postnasal drip. An example would be a sinus infection. When a person has a sinus infection, the body produces mucus, which bacteria feed on, leaving people with bad breath.
Another cause of bad breath would be surgical wounds that develop after oral surgery. These wounds can be due to a tooth extraction, a result of gum disease, or sores in the mouth.
2. Dental Issues
The presence of tooth decay, cavities, and deeper pockets caused by gum disease enable bacteria to hide in these areas, which can be difficult to clean when brushing or flossing your teeth. These dental issues commonly contribute to bad breath.
3. Fasting or Crash Dieting
Fasting or crash dieting can cause an odd smell on your breath. This unusual smell is caused by ketones, which are produced when your body burns fat for energy and your carbohydrate consumption is low.
4. Tobacco Products
Oral tobacco users and cigarette smokers are more prone to having bad breath. They are also more likely to develop gum disease, which is another source of halitosis.
5. Xerostomia (Dry Mouth)
Xerostomia or dry mouth is a condition that is characterized by a decrease in the production of saliva. Saliva plays a very important role in cleaning the mouth from particles that cause bad odors. Dry mouth is normally experienced by people during their sleep, which leads to a morning breath when they wake up. Dry mouth also tends to worsen when people sleep with their mouth open.
Aside from the natural causes of dry mouth, certain diseases and salivary gland problems can also cause chronic dry mouth.
6. Poor Dental Hygiene
When people do not regularly floss and brush their teeth, food particles can get stuck between their teeth and cause bad breath. Plaque (a sticky film of bacteria) also forms on the teeth when a person has poor dental practices. If plaque remains on the teeth, it can irritate the gums and cause periodontitis.
The tongue can also trap bacteria that produce bad odors. Other contributing factors to bad breath are ill-fitting dentures and dentures that are not regularly cleaned.
7. Medications, Food, and Drinks
Halitosis caused by certain foods, drinks, and medications are often temporary and easily cured by avoiding their consumption.
When people consume foods that contain garlic and other spices or consume alcoholic drinks, their breath tends to smell similar to what they have consumed. The reason is that the chemicals in foods and drinks get into people's bloodstream and are then breathed out from their lungs.
There are also medications that are associated with bad breath, and they include:
- Chloral hydrate
- Diuretics (water pills)
- Nitrites and nitrates
- Dimethyl sulfoxide
- Certain chemotherapy drugs
8. Medical Conditions
People with certain diseases and conditions, such as cancer and metabolic disorders tend to have a distinctive breath odor. Another condition that is associated with bad breath is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid leaks up into the esophagus.
Lifestyle Changes and Home Remedies
To help eliminate bad breath, the following remedies can be carried out:
- Brush your teeth regularly: Make it a habit to brush your teeth at least two times a day or after each meal. Regularly brushing of teeth can help remove stuck food particles in your mouth.
- Clean and repair dentures: Similar to teeth, dentures should also be cleaned daily to remove food particles and plaque. Regular brushing of dentures can also help prevent permanent stains from developing. Use soft bristles that are specifically designed for denture cleaning. Dentures can also be rinsed after every meal. Soon after receiving dentures, one or more follow-up checkups are needed to make sure that the dentures fit well.
- Floss: Regular flossing can help reduce the build-up of any particles or plaque that often get stuck or form in between the teeth. Brushing only cleans around 60 percent of the teeth surface. Flossing can help clear any remaining food particles and plaque.
- Diet: Certain foods can have an effect on mouth odor. They include foods that contain garlic, onions, and other spices. Foods that are rich in sugar are also linked with having bad breath. Alcoholic and caffeinated drinks also contribute to bad breath. If you think these foods and drinks are causing bad odor in your mouth, avoid or limit them in your daily diet.
- Clean your tongue: When brushing your teeth, do not forget to also brush or clean your tongue. Bacteria and dead cells can also accumulate on the tongue, especially in people who have dry mouth or those who smoke. You can also use a tongue scraper to help clear the buildup of substances on your tongue.
- Avoid dry mouth: Drink plenty of water and avoid drinking caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and soft drinks to avoid having a dry mouth. You should also avoid using tobacco products or smoking to keep your mouth moist. To help stimulate the production of saliva, you can suck on sugarless candies or chew gum. When it comes to chronic dry mouth, your healthcare provider or dentist may prescribe oral medications that can stimulate the flow of saliva or preparation of an artificial saliva formulation.
- Regularly replace your toothbrush: Consider replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months or soon after being sick. When your toothbrush becomes frayed, it is time to change it.
- See your dentist regularly: You can schedule your dental appointment twice a year so your dentist can examine or clean your teeth or dentures.