Bad breath is estimated to affect 1 in 4 people globally. The most common cause of halitosis is bad oral hygiene. If particles of food are left in the mouth, their breakdown by bacteria produces sulfur compounds leading to bad odor or bad breath.
Keeping the mouth hydrated can reduce mouth odor. The best treatment for bad breath is regular brushing, flossing, and hydration.
Halitosis can cause significant worry, embarrassment, and anxiety but it is relatively easy to treat
Anyone can suffer from bad breath. Halitosis is the third most common reason that people seek dental care, after tooth decay and gum disease. Simple home remedies and lifestyle changes, such as improved dental hygiene and quitting smoking, can often remove the issue.
Causes for bad breath:
- Food: The breakdown of food particles stuck in the teeth can cause odors. Some foods such as onions and garlic can also cause bad breath.
- Dry mouth: Saliva naturally cleans the mouth. If the mouth is naturally dry or dry due to a specific disease, such as xerostomia, odors can build up.
- Poor Dental hygiene: Brushing and flossing ensure the removal of small particles of food that can build up and slowly break down, producing odor. A film of bacteria called plaque builds up if brushing is not regular. This plaque can irritate the gums and cause inflammation between the teeth and gums called periodontitis.
- Dentures that are not cleaned regularly or properly can also harbor bacteria that cause halitosis.
- Crash diets: Fasting and low-carbohydrate eating programs can produce halitosis.
- Drugs: Certain medications can reduce saliva and, therefore, increase odors. Other drugs can produce odors as they breakdown and release chemicals in the breath. Examples include nitrates used to treat angina, some chemotherapy chemicals, and some tranquilizers, such as phenothiazines. Individuals who take vitamin supplements in large doses can also be prone to bad breath.
- Mouth, nose, and throat conditions: Sometimes, small, bacteria-covered stones can form on the tonsils at the back of the throat and produce odor. Also, infections or inflammation in the nose, throat, or sinuses can cause halitosis.
- Foreign body: Bad breath can be caused if they have a foreign body lodged in their nasal cavity, especially in children.
Diseases: Some cancers, liver failure, and other metabolic diseases can cause halitosis, due to the specific mixes of chemicals that they produce. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause bad breath due to the regular reflux of stomach acids.
- Rarer causes of bad breath
- Bowel obstruction
- Aspiration pneumonia
The best method to reduce halitosis is good oral hygiene. This ensures that cavities are avoided and reduces the likelihood of gum disease.
It is recommended that individuals visit the dentist for a check-up and cleaning twice a year.
The dentist may recommend a toothpaste that includes an antibacterial agent or an antibacterial mouthwash.
Alternatively, if gum disease is present, professional cleaning may be necessary to clear out the build-up of bacteria in pockets between the gums and teeth.