Bad breath or halitosis in medical parlance, is foul or unpleasant smelling breath, which can be acute or chronic depending on the cause. The term halitosis is coined by combining the Latin word for breath (halitus) with the Greek suffix (osis), meaning condition.
The fundamental cause of bad breath in most people is the whitish coating that covers the surface of the posterior portion of their tongue. More precisely, the bacteria that thrive on this warm and moist coating of the tongue cause bad breath.
What causes bad breath?
Have you ever stopped to wonder what causes halitosis?
# Certain medical conditions, such as sinus infections, tonsillitis, lung diseases, renal diseases, menstruation, cancer.
# The most common form of bad breath is morning bad breath, which is a temporary condition due to factors such as smoking, dry mouth, stress or hunger.
# Poor dental hygiene, which can leave food particles to decay inside the mouth.
# Consumption of certain types of foods with strong odour can cause transient bad breath, such as garlic, tobacco or onions.
# Chronic liver failure can cause a specific type of bad breath.
# Diabetes mellitus can at times cause a sweet-smelling fruity odour of the breath.
# Psychiatric illness - some people perceive that they have bad breath, but it is not noticed by others. This is referred to as “pseudohalitosis. "
Other causes of halitosis include -
Symptoms of bad breath –
A person may not always know that he has bad breath. This is because odour-detecting cells in the nose in due course become accustomed to the constant flow of bad smells from the mouth. Infact, others notice and react by recoiling as you speak.
Symptoms of bad breath -
# extreme oral dryness
# bad taste in the mouth
# bad breath
# a white or yellow Film on the tongue
# Bitter, sour, or metallic tastes
# Post nasal drainage
# White nodules on the tonsils
# Brushing and dental flossing the teeth makes no difference
# chest pain
Treatment for bad breath –
This depends on:
If bad breath is of oral origin, as it is in the majority of cases, a dentist can treat the cause of the problem.
If the odour is due to periodontal gum disease (causes gum tissues to pull away from the teeth and form pockets), a professional periodontal cleaning can remove the bacteria and plaque that accumulate. If there is extensive build-up of plaque, the dentist may recommend using a special antimicrobial mouth rinse, as well as brush tongue to remove excess plaque.
How to prevent bad breath?
Some ways to lower the risk of developing bad breath are:
1. Brush and floss teeth regularly. Proper brushing includes brushing the tongue, cheeks, and the roof of the mouth, which will remove bacteria and food particles.
2. Bad breath caused by dental problems can be prevented easily. Daily protection requires brushing teeth, tongue and gums after meals, flossing, and rinsing,
3. Bad breath also can be prevented by drinking plenty of water every day to encourage saliva production. An occasional rinse of the mouth with water helps loosen food particles.
4. Clean and replace toothbrush regularly.
5. Avoid mouthwashes with alcohol.
6. Avoid stress and relax.
7. Get sufficient exercise, and sleep.
8. Avoid spicy foods and foods with strong odours, and those that leave residues or are stuck in the teeth (alcohol, chocolates, cheese, meat, sweets).
Home cure for bad breath -
# Use a toothpaste and mouth rinse that has a antibacterial composition. Thymol and eukalyptol are natural oils derived from thyme and eucalyptus, and help destroy the bacteria causing bad breath.
# Fruit and vegetable juices help a great deal in getting rid of bad breath.
# One can also use breath-freshening gum, mint, sugar free chewing gum that dissolve on the tongue.
# Drinking green tea, eating yogurt or chewing sugarless cardamom gum are helpful in combating bad breath.
# Avoid rinses containing alcohol, as these dry out mouth and aggravate the problem.
# If you wear removable dentures, take them out at night. Brush the dentures and soak them overnight in a disinfecting solution.
# Consume an almost green raw guava. It is an excellent home remedy for bad breath and bleeding gums.
# Make tea from fenugreek leaves and drink it everyday.
# A baking soda rinse is also useful in eliminating or reducing bad breath.
# Patients suffering from bad breath should take a well-balanced diet consisting of seeds, nuts, grains, vegetables, and fruits, with stress on raw and cooked vegetables, and fruits. # Avoid constipation.
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