Bad Breath (Halitosis):
Halitosis, or more commonly known as bad breath, is a common oral issue. Halitosis is a condition in which noticeably unpleasant odors are exhaled while breathing. Whether or not the source of the bad smell is from bacteria, bad breath negatively affects many individuals both personally and socially. Bad breath is the also one of the most frequently seen complaint bringing patients to the dental chair, the first two being tooth decay and periodontal disease. There are a number of reasons that may lead to bad breath. Below we have listed some common causes:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Patients with mouth appliances such as dentures or orthodontics are more susceptible to bad breath if the appliances are not cleaning and maintained properly.
- Patients with a disability, young children, and the elderly who find the upkeep of oral hygiene to be particularly difficult
- Diet can sometimes cause dehydration depending on the type of foods ingested. Foods that often contribute to the progression of bad breath are diet cola, spices such as curry and garlic, onions, coffee, foods or beverages that are high in protein, etc.
- Medications can often cause bad breath such as the use of antihistamines, vitamins, cardiac and blood pressure medications, calcium blockers, etc. Such medication, although helpful to your overall health, can hinder the flow of saliva creating dry mouth which can often lead to bad breath and tooth decay.
- Patients who smoke are more susceptible to suffer from halitosis as well as periodontal disease in addition to the countless other negative affects regarding your general health.
Where does Bad Breath come from?
Plague is also a major contributor to bad breath. Plague, a colorless biofilm that colonizes and attaches itself to the surface of teeth, gingival margins, or spaces between teeth, can lead to bad breath, tooth decay, and periodontal disease.
There are several types of bacteria that are contributors to bad breath, all of which are the same bacteria that create the unpleasant odors found in rotten meat, sulfur and nitrogen gases, foot odor, feces odor, etc. Such bacteria existing within the mouth is a primary example of why oral health and hygiene is so important.
Bad Breath Solutions: Hygiene, Diet and Breath Aids
Patients living with halitosis are significantly affected in their personal and social lives. Those who suffer from bad breath may prevent themselves from laughing or even talking in public for fear of embarrassment. However, do not despair, as there are solutions available. Here we have provided a list of strategies that will end your daily battle with halitosis.
- Practice proper dental hygiene. It’s that simple. Proper hygiene will prevent the development of halitosis within the mouth. The food remains in your teeth and gums after eating create the perfect environment for thriving bacteria which are often the source of the problem. Brushing your teeth after meals will eliminate the bacteria’s ability to colonize.
- Brushing and flossing is extremely important. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss in between all your teeth at least once a day, if not more.
- Antiseptic mouthwash used in the morning, night and after meals will significantly help to eliminate the growth of bacteria. Ingredients in mouthwashes vary, so ask your dentist which type of mouthwash is best suited for you.
- Tongue scrapers are also a great and easy way to rid your mouth of odor causing bacteria that may be lingering there. Gently scrape the mucus off the tongue to remove bacteria without causing damage to the tongue.
- Using a straw when drinking sugary or acidic beverages can also help prevent the development of odor causing bacteria. The straw will help the liquid travel past the teeth and tongue to prevent any residue from remaining behind and harboring bacteria. Straws are a great solution for small children as well as the elderly who may find the maintenance of proper hygiene challenging.
- Patients with dental appliances or orthodontics should follow the routine oral health recommendations of their dentist to properly clean the appliances. Doing so will not allow bacteria to colonize and reach the stage in which they give off unpleasant odors. Following specific oral health instructions is also crucial to those patients with removable appliances.
Effects of Diet on Halitosis
A patient’s diet is a prime contributor to the effects of halitosis. Certain foods can disrupt the flow of saliva leading to bad breath. Something as simple as eating a healthy breakfast each morning can aid tremendously to prevent bad breath, as bacteria and odor tend to build up as we sleep. Drinking water is crucial. Water is not only necessary to maintain your general health; it also prevents dehydration, a major cause of bad breath. Beverages such as cola and juices are highly concentrated with sugars and acid and will have the exact opposite effect, by encouraging the growth and colonization of odor causing bacteria.
Use Bad Breath Aids
As for mints, mouthwashes and gum, these are merely temporary solutions. They will not prevent bad breath; they will simply mask it for an allotted time period. Patients who experience dry mouth can be prescribed medication, or simply be advised on over the counter medication to help relieve the issue. Ask your dentist what products are best suited for your particular needs.