What is Bad Breath?
Bad breath or halitosis is when a foul odor comes from the mouth. Bad breath is a significant issue that may arise due to multiple causes. Halitosis can have a tremendous impact on the physical, mental, as well as social health of an individual. It is estimated that 1 in every four people has bad breath daily. Bad breath is third only to dental decay and gum diseases, for which people visit the dentist.
What causes Bad Breath?
Bad Breath Can Be because of
- Temporary: Some pungent-smelling food you might have consumed, like onion/garlic-rich food. If the mouth is not rinsed correctly after having food, the breakdown of the food may result in a foul smell coming from the mouth.
- Poor Dental Hygiene results in the accumulation of food debris in the mouth, leading to bad breath. Poor oral hygiene causes the accumulation of plaque, a sticky colorless film produced by the bacteria on the teeth causing bad breath.
- The tongue also is exposed to the food we eat and the numerous bacteria that houses the mouth. Improper oral hygiene techniques like not using a tongue scrapper or tongue cleaner can cause food accumulation on the tongue, and bacterial breakdown of the food can result in a foul odor from the mouth.
- Improperly maintained oral aids like dentures and orthodontic appliances can cause the accumulation of food particles and ensure bacterial growth. This, in turn, can cause bad breath.
- Tobacco Products also cause an unpleasant smell to come from the mouth. Smokers and people who consume tobacco products are more likely to have halitosis.
- Infections to the mouth, nose, sinus, and throat can also cause halitosis. Infections mean the growth of microorganisms. The growth of microbes causes a foul odor to emit.
- Certain medications can cause a pungent smell. Certain other medicines on metabolism can cause a strong smell from the mouth.
- A Condition called Dry Mouth or Xerostomia results in decreased saliva production in the mouth, which reduces the self-cleaning capacity of the mouth, causing malodor.
- Underlying Systemic conditions like reflux diseases (GERD)/ Cancer/ Diabetes can cause a person to have bad breath.
How to Manage Bad Breath:
- Maintaining impeccable oral hygiene is necessary. It is not just important to clean your teeth, use a tongue scraper to clean your tongue, floss to clean between the teeth
- Any active dental or gum disease must be addressed, and treatment should be sought on priority. Receding gums, carried teeth, and faulty restorations are all breeding grounds for bacteria and must be eliminated for better oral hygiene.
- Drinking Lots of water flushes out the debris and keeps the mouth hydrated. This prevents dry mouth and thereby preventing the foul odor.
- Trying to avoid consuming strong-smelling food before you go out in public, to avoid malodor from the mouth
- Using mouthwash regularly helps with the malodor by cleaning out the food debris, working with the microbes, and also
- Cleaning your dentures and dental appliances regularly can remove the food debris and thus prevent the growth of the microorganisms
- Reduction in the consumption of alcohol and tobacco products can help with the odor.
When to see your dentist?
It is advisable to visit the dentist within one week of identification of bad breath, either by the individual themselves or when informed by others.
Having a foul smell coming from the mouth not only indicates poor dental health or physiological health, it also leads to poor social life as well. It affects the individuals mental well being as well. It is advisable to acknowledge the bad breath to be able to go ahead further and seek treatment or help.
Generally a dentist performs a smell test and uses a scale to measure the oral odour or scrapes the back of the tongue to collect the sample. Based on the condition, the dentist recommends further treatment.
MyDentalPlan brings dentists from varied geographies and with a wide range of experience at the most affordable rates. Login to MyDentalPlan.in and book your dentist appointment to identify the cause of bad breath and get started with the treatment at the earliest.
About the Author:
Dr. Rituparna Dubey
Dr. Rituparna Dubey is a BDS graduate from MCODS, Manipal, and is currently pursuing her Masters in Hospital Administration from TISS, Mumbai. She has additionally worked as a freelance content curator with many clients before joining Accenture Operations as a Medical underwriter.
Special thanks to Dr Deepak Kulkarni, a dental surgeon with over 23 years of experience who proofread this blog. He graduated from the H.K.E's Dental College, Gulbarga, and has certifications in ACHS International Accreditation Education Plan; Advanced Rotary Endodontic - Restorative Continuum; and Leadership, Team Building and Customer Service Leadership from the Oscar Murphy International.