Bad breath is experienced by most people from time to time, but for some it may be more persistent and noticeable. It affects the social and professional life of the person, causing him to lose self-confidence.
Bad breath can often be improved with better oral care and lifestyle changes. If the smell does not go away with personal care, a dentist or family doctor should be consulted in case of a more serious health problem.
About 90% of bad breath is caused by poor oral hygiene and dental problems. Not brushing and flossing every day leaves bits of food in and around the teeth. These parts are broken down by bacteria in the mouth, producing foul-smelling gases. Dentures that are not cleaned regularly or that do not fit properly will also cause similar problems.
Dental problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth abscess also contribute to bad breath.
Other things that can cause or contribute to bad breath include:
.Smoking: In addition to leaving an unpleasant mouth odor, smoking and using tobacco dries out the mouth, reduces natural cleanliness, and promotes the growth of odor-producing bacteria. Tobacco users are at risk of developing gum disease, which is another cause of bad breath and can lead to other health problems.
.Alcohol consumption: Drinking alcohol also causes a decrease in saliva production, which means less natural cleansing and more bacteria.
.Some foods: Bacteria that cause bad breath use sugar as super fuel. Sugary foods, drinks, candies, and chewing gum can increase odor-producing bacteria (sugar-free mints and gum are better alternatives for your breath). Sharp-smelling foods, such as garlic, onions, and spicy foods, can also cause bad breath.
.Various causes of dry mouth: Sleeping (saliva production decreases while sleeping, which explains “morning bad breath”). Various medical conditions such as diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and mumps, radiotherapy for head and neck cancer, drug use (eg methamphetamine, cannabis)
.Diet : Fast dieting or fasting can produce a sickly sweet odor on the breath. This is because of chemicals called ketones produced by the breakdown of body fat.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
One way to determine if you have bad breath is to ask someone you trust to be honest and tell you if you have bad breath. You can also ask your dentist at your next checkup. A more specific method of determining if you have bad breath is to lick your wrist, wait for your saliva to dry, and then sniff the area. Scraping the back of your tongue with a spoon and then sniffing the spoon is another method of self-testing for bad breath. You should see your dentist if you have the following signs or symptoms.
.Bad odor that does not go away after self-treatment for a few weeks
.Painful, bleeding or swollen gums
.Toothache or loose adult teeth
. Problems with your prostheses
After a dentist smells breath through your mouth and nose, they will be able to tell if you have bad breath and rate its intensity on a scale. They can also assess the intensity of odor from the scraping of the tongue or the length of the floss. Some dentists have detectors that can identify specific chemicals responsible for bad breath.
Since problems inside the mouth are the most common causes of bad breath, the dentist will check your teeth, tongue and gums and also take X-rays. If the dentist cannot find the cause of the bad breath in your mouth, they will recommend seeing your GP.
To look for other causes of bad breath, the doctor will ask about other symptoms and perform a physical exam. You can also do blood tests and examine your nose, throat, esophagus and they can examine your stomach.
Most bad breath is caused by problems in the mouth and will improve with better oral health routines. Because bad breath can be caused by a buildup of bacterial film (plaque) on your teeth, first steps likely include more regular brushing and flossing, and the use of antibacterial mouthwash and toothpaste to kill bacteria.
The dentist may also recommend filling cavities and replacing faulty dental restorations, both of which provide a home for odor-producing bacteria.
If you have gum disease, your dentist may refer you to a gum specialist. Gum disease can cause teeth to fall out of the gums, leaving deep pockets where plaque builds up. These pockets are not easily reached by normal tooth brushing. These pockets can only be specially cleaned by a periodontist or hygienist to remove plaque. They can also educate you on improvements in your daily oral hygiene.
Treatment for bad breath that is not caused by poor oral hygiene or dental problems varies depending on the underlying medical condition. Your doctor will determine the appropriate treatment for the specific cause of bad breath that is not related to problems inside the mouth.
Personal Care and Lifestyle Changes
Things you can do to treat bad breath by keeping your mouth and teeth healthy include:
.Brush your teeth (lightly) at least twice a day or after meals, for at least 2 minutes, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
.Floss or use interdental brushes at least once a day to clean between your teeth.
.Use a tongue scraper once a day to clean your tongue.
.Visit a dentist regularly, at least once a year.
.Change your toothbrush every 3-4 months.
.Keep dentures clean and remove before going to sleep at night.
.Keep dental retainers, night guards and mouth guards clean.
.Use anti-bacterial mouthwash or toothpaste. If dry mouth is a problem for you, gargle without alcohol.
.Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and reduced saliva flow.
.Quit smoking and do not use chewable tobacco products.
.Avoid sugary drinks and foods and other foods that cause bad breath.
.Reduce alcohol consumption.