Bad breath (Halitosis) can be caused due to various reasons. Most common reasons are
- Dental Factors (poor oral hygiene, gum disease or cavities),
- Dry Mouth and
Bad Breath (Halitosis) is mostly caused by sulphur-producing bacteria that normally live on the surface of the tongue and in the throat. Halitosis is not infectious. About 2.4% of the adult population suffers from bad breath.
1) Dental Factors (Such as Poor Oral Hygiene, Gum Disease – Periodontitis or Cavities)
Good dental hygiene is one of the main ways you can limit bad breath. It’s really important to brush twice a day and floss daily.
Our tongue can also harbour lots of bad breath-causing bacteria and food traces under a thin layer of mucus (white coating). So after brushing the teeth, try cleaning the tongue once a day, especially in the morning when the bacteria have been multiplying whilst we slept.
We can either use the toothbrush with a small amount of tooth paste and gently brush from the back of your tongue forward, or try a custom-designed tongue scrapper, which are available from most supermarkets or chemists.
Seeing dentist regularly every 6 months helps to keep an oral health under check and dentist can advise if there is a presence of gum disease or cavities that need to be addressed. The dentist will also be able to give your teeth and gums a deeper clean, removing plaque and bacteria in hard to reach places that at-home tooth brushing and flossing often miss.
2) Dry mouth
Dry mouth can be caused by medicines, alcohol, stress or a medical condition and also purely due to lack of water intake during the day
Having a dry mouth, which becomes more common as we age, can make your breath smell as saliva helps wash away food particles and odour-causing bacteria in your mouth.
To help keep your mouth hydrated, drink plenty of water throughout the day. When we become dehydrated our body tries to conserve water by slowing down the production of saliva. It can also be helpful to chew sugar-free gum, which can stimulate saliva production. If your dry mouth persists, it’s important to speak to your dentist or doctor.
If you take medications that can cause dry mouth, your dentist can prescribe certain kind of toothpastes or mouthwashes that may help with the situation.
Most of us know that smoking has much more damaging potential for health than just being a cause of bad breath. It significantly raises our risk of developing oral cancer, which includes cancer of the mouth, throat, salivary glands, tongue or lip.
Smoking can cause dry mouth and gum disease amongst other issues. If you smoke, talk to your dentist and doctor about quitting.
There are other less common causes of bad breath such as Acid and bile reflux from the stomach, Post-nasal discharge (for example- due to chronic sinusitis), Kidney failure, Carcinomas, Metabolic dysfunctions etc. Certain foods such as onions and garlic or drinks such as alcohol can induce certain odours in the mouth. However, these effects are only short-lived.