This is the first in a series of articles to help you or someone you know to combat bad breath. I will cover how you can tell whether you have the problem, how to deal with it, and how to prevent it.
Bad Breath, also known as halitosis, is a condition in which there is a bad smell coming out your mouth when you breathe out. Bad breath is a problem socially and it is a problem medically.
How can you tell if you have bad breath?
- A well-meaning friend or relative may bring it to your attention
- Do you have obvious tooth (e.g. tooth decay) or gum problems? These can be a source of bad breath.
- Do your teeth have black spots? This may be an early sign of problems.
- Cup your hands around your mouth and nose and then breathe out. You can usually smell the bad odour coming from your mouth.
- Lick your wrist or the back of your hand. Wait a few moments and then smell where you licked. If you smell nothing, you are probably ok.
- Scrape the front of your tongue using a tongue scraper (or a spoon), and then smell the scrape. Repeat the test on the back of the tongue.
What are the causes of bad breath?
There are different reasons why a person may develop bad breath. Here are some of them:
- Poor Mouth Hygiene – If you do not brush your teeth after eating, food particles in the mouth encourage bacteria to grow in the mouth.
- Smelly food – Garlic and raw onions can leave a bad smell in the mouth
- Dental problems – Gum and tooth disease can lead to bad smell.
- Chronic diseases – Lung infections can cause bad breath. Some kidney problems can cause a urine smell on the breath. Diabetes can cause a fruity smell. Some liver diseases can cause a fishy odour. People with milk intolerance are unable to digest the milk effectively. Bacteria cause souring of the milk and a foul smell. Cancer of the mouth or throat and HIV infection can cause halitosis.
- Dry Mouth – A reduction in the cleaning action of saliva leads to piling up of dead cells from the cheeks and gums. Bacteria break them down and cause bad breath. Sleeping with the mouth open is one cause of a dry mouth.
- Fasting – Extreme dieting and fasting can lead to a fruity smell (ketosis) as the body is forced to use stored body fat for energy.
- Alcohol – Digestion changes and dry mouth can occur when you drink alcohol.
- Tobacco – Smoking leaves a bad smell in the mouth. It also leads to a dry mouth and gum disease.
- Stress – Body changes in stress can include bad breath.
In the next article, I will talk about how to deal with bad breath.