Halitosis commonly called as bad breath or malodour is a very common condition which may affect up to 30% of the population. In most cases the causes of the condition is from local problems. Oral malodour is the result of the action of anaerobic bacteria in producing a range of malodorous products including volatile sulphur compounds.
Some of the causes are :
- Poor dental hygiene — Infrequent or improper brushing and flossing, allows bits of food that are stuck between the teeth to decay inside the mouth. Poor/Bad oral hygiene eventually will lead to periodontal (gums) disease, which also can cause bad breath.
- Infections in the mouth — These can be caused by either a cavity in a tooth or by periodontal (gums) disease.
- Respiratory tract infections — Throat, sinus or lung infections.
- External source — Garlic, onions, coffee, cigarette smoking, chewing tobacco.
- Dry mouth (xerostomia) — This can be caused by salivary gland problems, medicines or mouth breathing.
- Diseases — Diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, lung disease, sinus disease, reflux disease and others.
Management of oral malodour is directed at managing and reducing the bacterial load both in periodontitis and in tongue coatings by instituting proper oral hygiene measures, by brushing or scraping, and use of antiseptic agents.
Five methods may be suggested :
- Gently cleaning the tongue surface twice daily is the most effective way to keep bad breath in control. That can be achieved using a tongue cleaner or tongue brush/scraper to wipe off the bacterial coating, debris. Brushing with a small amount of antibacterial mouth rinse or tongue gel onto the tongue surface will further inhibit bacterial action.
- Eating a healthy diet.
- Chewing gum: Dry-mouth can increase bacterial build up and cause or worsen bad breath, chewing sugarless gum can help with the production of saliva, and thereby help to reduce bad breath.
- Gargling mouth before bedtime with an effective mouthwash.
- Maintaining proper oral hygiene, including daily tongue cleaning, brushing, flossing, and periodic visits to dentists and hygienists.