Bad breath is a common problem that can affect anyone at any age. It affects most people at some point, and it’s estimated about 1 in 4 people has bad breath on a regular basis. The medical name for bad breath is halitosis.
***Image via SMILEAGAINNOW***
What causes bad breath?
- 1. Poor oral hygiene
Poor oral hygiene is the most common cause of bad breath. Bacteria that build up on teeth, the tongue and gums can cause plaque (the soft, white deposit that forms on the surface of the teeth), gum disease and tooth decay. The bacteria combine with saliva to break down food particles and proteins which release an unpleasant smelling gas. If you do not brush and floss your teeth regularly, any food trapped between your teeth will be broken down by the bacteria, causing bad breath. The bacteria can also live in the rough surface of your tongue. Therefore, as well as brushing your teeth, cleaning your tongue can also help control bad breath. Having regular dental check-ups will ensure any oral hygiene problems are picked up and treated early. Your dentist can advise on how often you need a check-up.
- 2. Food and drinks
Eating strongly flavoured foods, such as garlic, onions and spices, is likely to make your breath smell. Strong-smelling drinks, such as coffee and alcohol, can also cause bad breath. This type of bad breath is usually temporary and can be easily avoided by not eating or drinking these types of food and drink.
- 3. Smoking
Smoking is another cause of bad breath. As well as making your breath smell, smoking also causes staining and loss of taste and irritates your gums. Smoking also increases your risk of developing gum disease which is another cause of bad breath.
- 4. Crash dieting
Crash dieting, fasting and low-carbohydrate diets can also cause bad breath. These cause the body to break down fat, which produces chemicals called ketones that can be smelt on your breath.
- 5. Medicines
Some types of medication can cause bad breath. Medicines associated with bad breath include:
- nitrates – which are sometimes used to treat angina
- some chemotherapy medication
- phenothiazines (tranquilisers)
If the medication you are taking is causing bad breath, your GP may be able to recommend an alternative.
- 6. Medical conditions
Bad breath is sometimes caused by a medical condition, although this is rare. Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition that affects the flow of saliva. This can cause bacteria to build up in the mouth, leading to bad breath. Dry mouth can also result from salivary gland problems or continually breathing through your mouth instead of your nose.
Other medical conditions that can cause bad breath include:
- lung, throat or nose infections, such as bronchiectasis
- gastritis – inflammation of the lining of the stomach and food reflux
Consult your dentist now if you have these symptoms. This message was brought to you by MY Dental Centre.
BY KENNETH LIM