Halitosis, also known as oral malodor and putrid breath, is a persistent, unpleasant smell that comes out of the mouth when a person exhales. The odor tends to linger for a while. Just brushing the teeth or using mouthwash do not always fix the smell if the odor is severe and has been present for a very long time. The cause of 90% of bad breath is from the mouth itself.
What is the main cause of Halitosis (Bad Breath)?
Some common leading causes of bad breath include:
- Certain kinds of foods and spices such as garlic, onion, curry, cheeses, fish, and coffee
- Tobacco chewing and smoking
- Long term sugar intake and accumulation of food debris in the teeth that promote the growth of bacteria, and lead to teeth decay and plaques formation
- Alcohol consumption
- Poor dental hygiene over a period leading to the accumulation of food particles in the teeth, which could rot and start to smell
- Inadequate cleaning of braces
- Low carbohydrates diet, high-fat diets leading to ketone breath
- Xerostomia (dry mouth): saliva regularly cleans the mouth, but when the mouth is dry, such as in Sjogren’s syndrome, this can cause odor to build up.
- Pharyngitis (sore throat)
- Influenza (Flu)
- Oral thrush
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Lactose intolerance
- Tonsillolithiasis (Tonsil stones)
- Diabetes mellitus
- Kidney failure
- Certain medications such as paraldehyde, triamterene, or antihistamines
- Morning sickness in pregnancy and strange pregnancy cravings can lead to bad breath
- Infections such as herpes simplex and human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Gastrointestinal diseases that cause constipation and belching
- Chronic liver failure
How can I tell if my breath smells?
The first sign of bad breath is the apparent unpleasant odor breath, but other manifestations are:
- A whitish coating on the tongue
- Persistent dry mouth
- Change in taste (unusual taste in the mouth)
- Nervousness around others because you think your mouth stink
- Anxiety /irritability
- Depression/ feeling sad
Diagnosis of Halitosis (Bad breath)
- Organoleptic measurements: uses sniffing and a scoring system to grade the odor perceived. The test is taken at a distance of 10cm and 1.5M from the oral cavity, then the severity of smell is graded: 0: No malodor (bad breath), 1: Slight malodor, 2: Clearly noticeable malodor and 3: Strong Malodor
- Self-diagnosis: scraping the back of the tongue with a disposable spoon then smelling the content of the spoon.
- Diagnosis can be made by a Friend.
- Halimeter: is a portable sulfide device used to measure the level of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) producing bacteria in the mouth.
- BANA test: is a test used to determine the proteolytic activities of certain bacteria that cause bad breath.
How do you get rid of bad breath permanently?
The treatments of bad breath are as follow:
- Brush using a fluoride-containing and antibacterial toothpaste.
- Treatment of underlying causes.
- Stop or reduce the intake of foods that cause bad breath, for example, onion, garlic, and coffee intake.
- Brush and floss twice a day (including the tongue).
- Antibacterial mouth wash containing chlorhexidine, zinc gluconate, hydrogen peroxide, and cetylpyridinium chloride.
- Clean dentures and braces as instructed by your dentist
- Plenty of water intake to combat dryness of mouth
- Replace toothbrushes regularly.
- A regular dental checkup.
- Use of breath mints and sugar-free gums
Facts about bad breath
HALITOSIS can be caused by various factors, including a fear of having bad breath. This is called Delusional halitosis.
- Delusional halitosis (halitophobia) is the exaggerative fear of how bad the breath is even when others cannot perceive the bad breath. Halitophobia can lead to obsessive brushing of teeth that can wear down the enamel of the teeth.
- Psychological evaluation is recommended for this type of halitosis.
- Breath mint can be used to keep the mind at peace.
Onions and garlic are culprits of bad breath
Skipping meals can cause you to have bad breath