Bad breath – Halitosis

Bad breath – Halitosis

What is halitosis?

It is an undesirable condition whereby an unpleasant odor emanates from the mouth air or breath. It’s as well commonly referred to as bad breath,
fetor oris, or mouth odor.

What is the prevalence?
Halitosis is very common in the general population and nearly more than 50% of the general population have halitosis. The origin of halitosis in 90% of the patient is the oral cavity; 9% of the patient’s source of halitosis is non-oral reasons such as the respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, or urinary system. In 1% of patients, the cause of the halitosis is diet or drugs.

What causes halitosis?
Halitosis may be caused by the following;
1. Certain foods: The things you eat are linked to your oral health, including your breath. Dietary products such as garlic, onions, and spiced food are absorbed into the bloodstream causing a transient unpleasant odor.

2. Poor oral hygiene: Without correct and regular brushing and flossing, and routine dental check-ups, food particles build up & slowly break down to produce a bad odor. A film of bacteria called plaque also builds up if brushing is not regular. This plaque can irritate the gums and cause inflammation between the teeth and gums called periodontitis which then creates mouth odor.

3. Improper cleaning of dentures: Dentures that are not cleaned correctly may be collecting bacteria, fungi, and remaining food particles, which cause bad breath.

4. Dry mouth (Xerostomia): Saliva functions as a buffering or a cleaning agent and keeps bacteria at a manageable level in the mouth. Reduction of the salivary flow has negative effects on self-cleaning of the mouth and inadequate cleaning of the mouth causes halitosis.

5. Tobacco products: Tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and snuff stain the teeth and put the body at risk for a host of diseases. But they also help cause bad breath.

6. Systemic conditions: Respiratory system problems, gastrointestinal disease, hepatic disease, hematological or endocrine system disorders, and metabolic conditions can all be the causes of halitosis.

How is halitosis diagnosed?
Dentists often diagnose halitosis and it is based on the results of a person’s history, examination, and investigations. The entire mouth is checked to see if a cause can be found, such as an infection, however, if the dentist can’t find the cause, he or she will refer you to an appropriate medical specialist.

What is the treatment for halitosis?
Halitosis treatment depends on the causes of the issue. A bad breath caused by poor oral hygiene is treated by professional cleaning in a dental clinic and improved oral hygiene practices at home will likely help. Occasionally, your dentist may recommend special mouth rinses such as chlorhexidine mouthwash to combat certain bacteria in your mouth.

However, if the bad breath is a symptom of another condition somewhere else in your body, a medical specialist can help you with proper diagnosis and treatment.

How can I prevent halitosis?
– Brushing twice daily including the tongue and regular flossing.
– Cleaning your dentures for denture users
– Avoid dry mouth by taking plenty of water, chewing sugarless gum, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol.
– Diet: Avoid excessive intake of onion, garlic, and spiced food.
– Routine dental check-ups for scaling and polishing twice every year.

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