The term halitosis refers to bad breath. That is, the unpleasant odor that is emitted during the breath. It is a disorder that can affect people of any age and sex.
From a social point of view is a problem that often embarrass those who suffer and sometimes even jeopardizes relationships for fear that the couple is uncomfortable with the smell. There is also what is known as halitophobia in which people have a feeling of bad mouth odor but in reality there is no such problem. The consequences are the same as when there is halitosis because the person hides and tries to avoid rapprochement with other people for fear that they feel that smell.
The causes of bad breath are many and varied; although in most cases (we speak of up to 90%) the bad smell originates directly in the mouth. And often because of the accumulation of food residues that are transformed by the bacteria responsible for the appearance of plaque due to poor oral hygiene of the teeth and tongue. Another of the most common causes is the low hydration of the oral mucosa.
When the cause is not in the mouth it can be due to several diseases like:
- Respiratory diseases (tonsillitis, bronchitis and sinusitis),
- Digestive diseases ( gastroesophageal reflux, …)
- Systemic diseases (diabetes, renal or hepatic dysfunction).
- Although it is somewhat rarer it can also be that the cause of the disease is in some specific substances:
- Food (garlic, onion, spicy food, …)
- Other substances (tobacco, alcohol, drugs, …)
But as I said before, most times it is due to some problem in the mouth. In these cases the problem is related to the putrefaction of the food that remains in the mouth, the dead cells that remain in the oral cavity and the microscopic components of the blood. The unpleasant odor appears as a result of a complex series of chemical reactions with bacteria in the mouth, particularly in the back of the tongue.
As for food it must be said that some of them can make bad breath worse. For example:
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, …),
- Onions and garlic,
- Alcohol (from dehydration of the mouth),
- Sugar (acts as a stimulus for the growth of bacteria)
- Coffee (due to acidic pH).
There are also a number of factors that contribute to aggravate the problem:
- Poor salivation,
- Poor oral hygiene,
- Caries that has not been treated,
- Local infections (eg, thrush)
- Inhalation through the mouth (ie breathing without the help of the nose),
To be able to diagnose this disorder normally is done by the evaluation of the breathing. The health care professional will make three measurements of air from the nose at a different distance to determine the severity of the problem. They can also use a halitometer that is just a specific device to measure halitosis.
There are even times where the gas chromatography method is used to detect the substances present.
To try to solve or avoid the problem it is essential to maintain a good oral hygiene , even use specific products for halitosis should it have already appeared. And when I say oral hygiene, I do not mean just brushing my teeth but also my tongue, I often leave it out and it is very important to clean it for oral health.
It is also advisable to use dental floss or interdental brushes to properly remove food leftovers that remain between the teeth.
To know more about oral hygiene you can read the article “Why should we watch our mouths? Diseases and Oral Hygiene “.
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Mouthwashes and dentifrices formulated to combat bad breath usually contain antimicrobial active ingredients such as:
- Aromatic ethers,
- essential oils.
- Precautionary measures
It is necessary to brush your teeth at least 2 times a day using fluoride toothpaste. In addition we must make sure to brush carefully along the edge of the gum and on the surface of the teeth.
After brushing your teeth, we also have to brush your tongue, especially in the part closest to the throat (it is best to use a cleanser that you can easily find in pharmacies).
Although many people do not have this habit we should start adopting it and use floss or interdental brushes at least once a day to remove the remains of food that remain between the teeth.
Apart from cleaning, what we eat also has repercussions on oral hygiene. It is recommended to eat fruit and vegetables every day and decrease meat consumption. We should also avoid foods containing onion, garlic and other condiments that may worsen oral odor. The same should avoid the consumption of alcohol and tobacco.
In case we have a dry mouth it is good to go drinking often few sips throughout the day.
The use of mouthwashes is also advisable, and must always be maintained for at least 30 seconds in the mouth.
In case of using implants or prostheses they have to be disinfected often, what is more, we should do it always after every meal.
And for much fear that we have the doctor must go twice a year to have oral cleaning.
If you want to know some remedies to solve the problem of halitosis I recommend reading this article.