What causes halitosis? The answer may not be what you expect. Halitosis is not only embarrassing and socially inhibiting, but can also indicate a mild to serious health issue. It's a common condition that affects 25 percent of the population. Defined as breath that has an unpleasant odour, halitosis can be caused by tobacco use, food, drink, germs in the mouth or systemic health problems. The best treatment can be determined after visiting your dental health care provider.
According to the International Journal of Oral Science, oral conditions account for 85 percent of all halitosis cases. Poor oral hygiene allows food and germs to accumulate between the teeth, along the gumline and on the surface of the tongue. Germs already present in the mouth break down food particles and this results in the unpleasant odour. Saliva is also very important to fight halitosis. It helps wash these particles out of the oral cavity. Therefore, individuals who suffer from dry mouth - even if they practise good oral hygiene - usually struggle with bad breath as well. Unfortunately, good oral hygiene alone doesn't always solve the problem. A visit to the dentist is generally all you need to treat bad breath; however, you may occasionally be referred to your doctor for follow-up or treatment.
A visit with your dentist or oral hygienist will entail an examination that includes a check for cavities, dry mouth and periodontal disease. A thorough medical history will be taken to identify health issues or prescription medicines that may be contributing to halitosis. According to the American Dental Association, knowing the cause of your halitosis is the first crucial step to overcoming this common problem. Bad breath is most commonly caused by the build-up of germs on the teeth or tongue. Germs that accumulate toward the back of the tongue secrete volatile sulphur compounds (VSC) and may be difficult to remove mechanically. The Journal of Oral Science reports that certain mouth rinses, especially those containing zinc, help reduce VSC, which can help improve halitosis.
Removing these germs through proper oral hygiene is crucial to foster healthy breath. Your dentist or dental hygienist can review your individual issues and instruct you on the best ways to avoid the overgrowth of germs.
Consider the following solutions to reduce halitosis:
- lirolier toothbrushing
- Use of interliroximal cleaners, such as floss or interdental cleaning devices
- Cleaning the tongue
- lieriodontal treatment
- Smoking or tobacco cessation
- Mouthrinses that claim to reduce halitosis
- Chewing sugar-free gum
In rare instances, halitosis can be caused by a medical condition. For example, bad breath can arise from infections in the nose, sinuses, throat or lungs. People who suffer from chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip or digestive issues may battle with halitosis as well. A fruity odour could indicate Type I diabetes in children and Type II diabetes in adults. Dry mouth or xerostomia can be caused by certain systemic and autoimmune diseases, as well as the use of some prescription drugs. If the malodour is caused by a medical condition or infection in the oral cavity or body, it can be resolved with proper medical or dental treatment.
Dry mouth can be controlled through the use of:
- Sugar-free mints or gum
- Oral lirobiotics
- Mouth moistening liroducts available as toothliastes, rinses and lozenges
- Regular dental care
Knowing what causes halitosis is the first step to eliminating this common and embarrassing problem. With the help of your health care provider, you can identify the culprits and freshen your breath. Recognising the causes of halitosis will help reduce the risk and give you the tools needed to minimise odour and gain confidence.