Bad breath or Halitosis, is an unpleasant odour coming from the mouth. It can be caused by something simple like food, or oral diseases and sometimes can be sign of another health condition.
Some potential causes of bad breath:
Food: Some food are very strong smelling and this can stay in your mouth long time. Some typical foods include garlic or onion. These have a pungent smell and can even enter the blood stream. In some cases, these smells can come out through in your sweat. Food left in your mouth for a long time can also break down and cause a bad smell. Brush your teeth after eating smelly foods to minimize bad breath.
Oral Health: The bacteria in your mouth can cause a bad smell. As the bacteria break down food particles, they often excrete waste products and acids which can have a bad smell. The bacteria can be present on or between your teeth, on your tongue and cheek. If you have a denture, plate, or braces, the bacteria and food particles can be stuck to these appliances as well. It is important to maintain good oral hygiene practices every day to avoid this problem. It is also very important to keep your gums clean and healthy as this is one of the major causes of bad breath. Some dental infections can also cause bad breath.
Dry mouth (Xerostomia): Saliva acts to flush out the bacteria and remove any unwanted food particles and debris from your mouth. If you are experiencing dry mouth often, it may be necessary to see your dentist or general practitioner to find out the cause and manage as appropriate.
Medication: Some medication can cause dry mouth and thus indirectly cause bad breath. Other medication cause bad breath directly due to the nature in which they work.
Medical Conditions: Certain conditions can also cause bad breath. Poorly controlled diabetes, the flu, gastric reflux and other digestion problems may be a factor. If you suspect any of these, it is best to seek medical attention.
Tobacco: Smoking is a well-known cause of bad breath. Other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco or snuff can also cause the same bad breath. Smoking can lead to gum disease which is another cause of bad breath.
Depending on the cause of bad breath, the treatment varies. Dental causes are best managed by a dentist. For medical causes, you must see a general practitioner. From your end, the things you can do are:
- Brush, floss and use mouth wash regularly.
- If you have any appliances, denture etc., keep them clean.
- Reduce or quit smoking if you are currently.