Halitosis (unpleasant odours exhaled in breathing), is estimated to be the third most frequent reason for seeking dental aid, following tooth decay and periodontal diseases.
Causes of Bad Breath
The intensity of bad breath differes during the day, due to eating certain foods such as garlic, onions, meat, fish and cheese. Also smoking, alcohol consumption and obesity are some of the sources of halitosis. Since the mouth is exposed to less oxygen and is inactive during the night, the odour is usually worse upon waking up (morning breath).
Bad breath may be temporary, often disappearing following eating, brushing one's teeth, flossing or rinsing with specialised mouthwash. It may also be persistent, which is a more serious condition, affecting 25 % of the population in varying degree.
The second major source of bad breath is the nose. In this occurrence, the air exiting the nostrils has a pungent odour that differs from the oral odour. Nosal odour may be due to sinus infections. Other sources of halitosis include the tonsils, stomach and food pipe (esophagus)
Bad Breath Remedies
So, how can you tell if you have bad breath? Many have long thought that smelling one's own breath odour is often difficult due to acclimatization, although many people with halitosis are able to detect it in others. The simplest and most effective way to know whether one has bad breath is to ask a trusted family member or close friend. After confirmation of bad breath, the confidant can help determine if it's coming from the mouth or the nose.
For self-diagnosis, stick a clean finger or a plastic disposable spoon in your mouth and scrape saliva from the back of your tongue. Put it on the back of your hand, wait a minute, then smell your hand. Is it something you'll want to kiss?
Several home tests such as the use of chemical reaction to test the presence of sulfur and polyamine compounds on tongue swaps are available. Others include laboratory methods such as halimeter, BANA test and Gas chromatography.
After diagnosis of halitosis, an effective bad breath treatment is not always easy to find. But you can never go wrong with the below strategies:
- Gently clean the tongue surface twice daily to keep bad breath in control; use a tooth brush, tongue cleaner or tongue brush or scrapper to wipe off the bacterial biofilm and debris.
- Floss at least once a day
- Brush your teeth after you eat. Keep a toothbrush at work to brush after eating. Brush at least twice a day, especially after meals. Toothpaste with anti-bacterial properties has been shown to reduce bad breath odours for up to twelve hours.
- Drink plenty of water. to keep your mouth moist, be sure to drink plenty of water not coffee, soft drinks or alcohol, which can lead to a drier mouth.
- Chewing gum preferably sugarless or sucking on candy also stimulates saliva, washing away food particles and bacteria.
- Gargling right before bedtime with an effective mouthwash. Others include probiotic treatments such as Streptococcus salivarius K12 has been shown to suppress bacteria which produce malodorous compounds and fatty acids, which account for 80 per cent of all cases of mouth-related bad breath.
- Cleaning your dental plates well. If you wear a bridge or complete or partial denture, clean it thoroughly at least once a day.
- For alternative remedies, use Ayurvedic medicine, chewing areca nut and betel leaf. They are excellent traditional remedies against bad breath.