Halitosis

A beautiful smile is an asset to the face. You must take special care to maintain a healthy beautiful smile by taking care of your oral hygiene. Oral hygiene involves taking care of your teeth, gums, palate and tongue. One of the common problems that people encounter is bad breath or halitosis.

This is not only embarrassing but also a major turn off to people with whom you communicate or work with in close proximity. But the good news is that halitosis can be dealt with efficiently, once you know the cause behind it.

The various causes of bad breath are:

  • When you eat foods, they breakdown in the mouth, microorganisms can grow over it causing bad breath.
  • Pungent foods like garlic, onion, certain spices and vegetables also cause bad breath.
  • After the pungent foods are digested the pungent oils in the food are carried to the lungs through the blood stream from where they are expelled out through breath.
  • If proper oral hygiene is not maintained a thin film of bacteria called plaque develops on the teeth and gums which results in unhealthy gum enlargement known as gingivitis.
  • If proper brushing and flossing is not done, the bacteria in the oral cavity acts on the particles of food remaining in your oral cavity to emit a foul smelling odor of hydrogen sulphide which causes halitosis or bad breath.
  • If tongue is not cleaned properly, the bacteria on its uneven surface produces bad odor. In people who wear dentures or false teeth, it is very important to keep the dentures clean as bacteria can multiply on it and cause bad breath.
  • Halitosis may also occur in conditions called as dry mouth or Xerostomia where there is a decrease in production of saliva, as saliva regularly washes put the microorganisms from the mouth.
  • Certain diseases also cause halitosis. In conditions like diabetes, liver failure, kidney disease, cancer and acidity you will find halitosis.
  • Medications that are used in urinary tract problem, high blood pressure and psychiatric conditions cause halitosis by decreasing the saliva production causing dry mouth.
  • In conditions like tonsillitis or enlargement of tonsils due to infection, sinus problem, ulcers and infections of the respiratory system, impacted (un erupted) wisdom tooth, defective formation of cleft palate and oronasal cavity there is halitosis.
  • Bad breath is also seen in smokers. The tobacco smoke dries up the mouth causing bad breath. It also leads to periodontal disease (gum disease) that is a major cause of halitosis.
  • Consuming alcohol also causes bad breath as alcohol dries up the mouth and also causes digestive problems which ultimately lead to halitosis.

A regular visit to the dentist is a must for complete oral check up. If your dentist finds that you have plaque, and calculus which is the hardened form of plaque containing food debris, bacteria and mineral salts, then the dentist will recommend professional cleaning which is called as oral prophylaxis or scaling. This is one of the bad breath treatments.

In this procedure, the odor causing plaque, calculus and stains are removed from the surface of the teeth, above and below the gums.

The dentist will also check for any faulty restorations that are harboring odor causing bacteria. They have to be replaced immediately.

Mouth rinses containing chlorhexidine, cetylypyridium, chloride, zinc and chlorine dioxide as ingredients are found to be very effective against odor causing bacteria.

Antibacterial tooth paste is recommended by the dentist to fight against these bacteria.

You can follow certain steps to prevent halitosis. The bad breath remedies are:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a good antibacterial tooth paste. It is important to change your tooth brush once in 3 to 4 months and remember to use a soft bristle brush that is soft on the gums. Use tongue scraper to remove the dirt and bacteria prevailing on the tongue.
  • Use antibacterial mouth rinse that is effective against odor causing bacteria. To clean plaque between teeth, flossing needs to be done every day in which a floss or thread made of nylon is passed between the teeth to remove plaque.
  • It is also essential to keep your tongue clean. Use a tongue scraper or brush with scraper behind its head to clean your tongue.
  • Cleaning your dentures daily is also essential as they harbor odor causing bacteria.
  • Drinking lots of water will prevent dry mouth or xerostomia. If that does not solve the problem, then the dentist will give you saliva inducing oral medication.
  • Avoid pungent foods and include fiber in your diet.
  • Visit your dentist at least twice a year for regular checkups. If halitosis is due to a reason other than oral hygiene, do consult your general physician. Follow these preventive steps for bad breath solution.

The problem of halitosis is not a new one. Evidence shows that around 5000 BC, the Egyptians made their toothpaste with pumice, ash of egg shells, hooves of ox and myrrh. It is interesting to note that in 50 AD, Greek scholar Pliny suggested using worms and toads to relieve bad breath.

The history of a tooth brush also dates back to ancient Egypt where they made tooth cleaning tools with twigs. Fortunately in today’s times we have developed good oral hygiene methods by which we can keep halitosis away.

Remember to take good care of your oral hygiene, as a beautiful smile and fresh breath can win over more people than you can ever imagine!