Halitosis is popularly known as bad breath or foul smelling breath or breath that has unpleasant odor ,this odor can occur from time to time or it can be long lasting depending on the cause. It is usually caused by breakdown of food.
Millions of bacteria live in the mouth particularly on the back of the tongue and when there is a build up of bacteria,toxins are released which make an individual’s breath to smell. These bacteria are also responsible for tooth decay, gum disease e.t.c.
Halitosis can be caused by a variety of factors namely:
- Poor dental hygiene : Food trapped between the teeth will be broken down by bacteria resident in the mouth,so, improper or infrequent brushing and flossing of the teeth can lead to foul smelling breath.
- Fasting or severe dieting : Abstaining from food for a prolonged period of time can also cause bad breath.
- Smoking or use of tobacco : This stains the teeth ,irritates the gum , reduces sense of taste and ultimately makes breath smell.
- Dry mouth : Lack of saliva can cause more bacteria than normal to build up in the mouth.
- Diseases : Some underlying medical conditions can also predispose an individual to bad breath e.g kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes mellitus e.t.c.
- Respiratory tract infections : Infections affecting the nose, throat , sinus or even the lungs can cause foul smelling breath.
- Certain foods with strong flavors : Food particles from foods like ginger, garlic ,onions e.t.c can also induce bad breath.
- Certain medications : Some types of drugs can also produce breath with unpleasant odor
- Infections in the mouth : For example cavity in a tooth, tooth decay , gum disease.
- Halitophobia : Certain psychological condition when people think they have bad breath when they do not have.
Halitosis can be prevented and managed in the following ways:
- Brush your teeth and tongue at least twice in a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss (in between the teeth) daily.
- Rinse your mouth with mouthwash if necessary.
- Avoid dryness of your mouth.Drink water regularly.
- Visit the dentist regularly (preferably every 6 months) for dental check-ups.
- See your dentist promptly if you have bad breath accompanied with loose tooth or teeth, painful,swollen gum that bleeds or if you still have bad breath after making changes to improve your dental hygiene
- Visit the hospital if your bad breath is accompanied with fever ,sore throat, cough, discolored discharges from the nose.