40 million Americans suffer from bad breath at some time of their lives. Because of the social stigma attached to bad breath, people are not always willing to take part in surveys,hence the unreliability of much anecdotal research. A lot of people attempt to hide the symptom by using powerful mouth washes, rather than seeking the advice of health professionals. Because of the phenomenon of acclimatisation, a lot of people don’t even know they have bad breath, as they become used to the smell.
Now what exactly is Bad Breath?
Bad Breath is known medically as halitosis. Halitosis is an extreme condition, and is principally caused by the decomposition of old food, dead mouth cells and other debris from the mouth that comprises a film of debris particularly on the back of the tongue. The back of the tongue is ideally configured to act as a trap for this bacteria-rich film.
The odours associated with bad breath are caused by the breakdown of protein into amino acids. This is followed by the breakdown of certain amino acids, into smaller compounds, and this produces the bad odours. They are known as Volatile Sulphurous Compounds(VSC) and the presence of VSCs usually indicate halitosis.
It must be remembered, that not everyone who has bad breath, has Halitosis.
What causes Bad Breath
- Bad breath is principally caused in the mouth, and as mentioned earlier, chiefly at the back of the tongue.
- Bad breath can also be caused as a result of dental disease, like gingivitis, periodontal abscesses, and food impaction areas in the mouth.
- Bad breath can be caused by the time of the day, such as morning mouth, where the mouth hasn’t had any saliva the whole night, which has caused the bacteria to multiply. Saliva washes the mouth constantly, which helps to prevent the accumulation of this debris in the mouth.
- Bad breath can also be caused by particular foods that you eat, such as garlic and onions, and particularly meat. Both of the abovementioned causes, however, are temporary and soon dissipate.
- Bad breath can also be caused by certain medical conditions, like diabetes and acid reflux from the stomach. In this case however, the bad breath is indicative of a far more serious underlying medical condition, and will obviously require more urgent and far-reaching medical intervention than changing your diet, seeing your dentist and cleaning your teeth properly.
- False teeth, if not cleaned properly and regularly, will also cause bad breath due to the accumulation of oral debris on the false teeth themselves.
How do you treat Bad Breath?
The first step is to ensure that you practise adequate dental hygiene. Brushing, flossing and cleaning of the tongue regularly is essential. Regular visits to the dentist will also help to identify problems at an early stage.
Make sure that you have the early signs of dental disease, such as abscesses and impacted food pockets sorted out by a dentist as soon as possible.
The lack of saliva has been identified as another cause of bad breath. Chewing sugarless gum will help to control this condition.
Mouth washes that contain zinc chloride also help to contain the growth of bacteria that cause bad breath.
Watch what you eat. If you have a romantic night planned, or an important meeting, don’t eat onions and garlic.
If the condition is chronic, it is advisable to seek professional help as it might indicate a far more serious medical condition.
As we’ve discussed, bad breath is an extremely awkward social condition and leads to profound embarrassment and low self-esteem. If you suspect that you have bad breath or halitosis, making an appointment with a dentist as the first step. If he can’t resolve the problem, he will refer you to a specialist who will be able to help you further.