Imagine this- you’re in the middle of a conversation when suddenly, your nose is assaulted by a terrible smell. You try to locate the source only to find that it’s coming from the other person’s mouth.
Halitosis, also known as bad breath, is a common illness, usually due to disorders of the sinuses, nose, throat, lungs, oesophagus or stomach.
- noticeably unpleasant breath
- coating on the tongue
- dry mouth
- odd, sour taste in the mouth
Halitosis can be caused by:
Food such as garlic, onion, spicy foods, exotic spices, some cheeses, fish and beverages such as coffee, can leave you with bad breath. Most of the time, the smell goes away relatively quickly, but when a piece of food gets stuck between your teeth, it can result in dental plaque or growth of bacteria, and thus- the bad breath. Diets that are low in carbohydrates also cause something known as “ketone breath”. Your body uses carbohydrates for energy and when there are no carbs, your body uses stored fat for energy. The result of making this energy is ketones, which cause a fruity acetone-like smell whenever you exhale. If you are diabetic, this smell could also point to uncontrolled blood sugar levels.
Smoking and chewing tobacco leaves the smell behind in your mouth. Smoking could also precipitate other causes of bad breath such as gum disease, oral cancer or abscesses.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Not to sound like your dentist or anything, but it is important to floss your teeth regularly. It’s very easy for food to get caught between our teeth, as I’m sure we’ve all established after finding ourselves fighting with the toothpick because of that stubborn piece of meat. As mentioned before, food can cause bad breath, whether it be temporary or long-lasting. If you don’t take care of your pearly whites it may lead to a build-up of plaque which is also responsible for halitosis. Plaque build-up can also lead to gum diseases such as gingivitis and/or periodontitis.
Bad breath can also be associated with sinus infections, pneumonia, throat infections, flu, tonsil stones, bronchitis, postnasal drip, as well as some liver, kidney and stomach problems.
One of saliva’s main purposes is to moisten and cleanse the mouth, but when your body doesn’t produce enough, either due to dehydration or other illnesses, it can result in bad breath.
Dentures or Braces
Yes, they are there to give you that picture-perfect smile, but what about that minty-fresh breath? Pieces of food can get stuck between your braces or loose-fitting dentures, and may cause sores in the mouth that release a bad odour.
This phenomenon, which we are all very familiar with, is due to the reduction of saliva production while you are asleep and this allows bacteria to build up.
No, just because you have a person growing inside of you, doesn’t mean you can just avoid the wrath of halitosis. Pregnancy comes with morning sickness, hormonal changes, change in diet/cravings and dehydration all contribute to bad breath.
- Brush and floss your teeth on a regular basis. Don’t forget to brush your tongue too, as bacteria can also build up here.
- Face the music…you should visit the dentist for regular check-ups because he/she is qualified to look for things that you won’t necessarily see.
- Quit smoking or using chewing tobacco.
- Chewing gum and sugar-free candy can be used to eliminate bad breath, as well as keep the mouth from drying out.
- Drink enough water and chew gum or sugar-free candy to stimulate the production of saliva. Eat foods that require a lot of chewing, like carrots or apples in order to keep this process going.
- Mouthwash helps to kill bacteria resulting in halitosis and gingivitis.
- For more serious cases, dentists would usually prescribe a specific toothpaste or mouthwash.