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Bad Breath Treatment

By Dr. Aastha Chandra

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CAUSES, REMEDIES AND PREVENTIVE MEASURES FOR BAD BREATH

Bad breath, also called “halitosis,” can be embarrassing and in some cases may even cause anxiety. 

Most bad breath starts in your mouth, and there are many possible CAUSES OF BAD BREATH including:

  • Food: The breakdown of food particles in and around your teeth can increase bacteria and cause a foul odour. Eating certain foods, such as onions, garlic and spices, some cheeses, fish, and acidic beverages such as coffee can leave a lingering smell. Most of the time the odour is short lived. Other foods may get stuck in the teeth, promoting the growth of bacteria and dental plaque, which causes bad breath. Low carbohydrate diets may also cause “ketone breath.” These diets cause the body to burn fat as its energy source. The end-product of making this energy is ketones, which cause a fruity acetone-like odour on the breath when exhaled. This fruity odour in diabetic patients might indicate uncontrolled blood sugars.
  • Tobacco Products: Smoking causes its own unpleasant mouth odour. Smokers and oral tobacco users are also more likely to have gum disease, another source of bad breath. Smoking can also precipitate other bad breath causes such as gum disease or oral cancers.
  • Poor Dental Hygiene: If you don’t brush and floss daily, food particles remain in your mouth, causing bad breath. A colourless, sticky film of bacteria (plaque) forms on your teeth. If not brushed away, plaque can irritate your gums and eventually form plaque-filled pockets between your teeth and gums causing a mild form of gum disease called “gingivitis,” which if not treated can advance to periodontitis. Your tongue can also trap bacteria that produce odours.
  • Dry Mouth: Saliva helps cleanse your mouth, removing particles that cause bad odours. A condition called dry mouth or “xerostomia”can contribute to bad breath because production of saliva is decreased. Dry mouth naturally occurs during sleep, leading to “morning breath,” and it worsens if you sleep with your mouth open. Chronic dry mouth can be caused by salivary gland problems and medications.
  • Pregnancy: Being pregnant in itself does not cause bad breath, but the nausea and morning sickness common during pregnancy may cause bad breath. In addition, hormonal changes, dehydration, and eating different foods due to cravings may also contribute to bad breath during pregnancy.
  • Dentures Or Braces: Food particles not properly cleaned from appliances such as braces and dentures can cause a bad odour. Loose-fitting dentures may cause sores or infections in the mouth, which can cause bad breath.
  • Allergies: Many medications used to treat allergies can cause dry mouth, another cause of halitosis. In addition, post nasal drip is a common symptom of allergies that can result in bad breath. Sinus congestion due to allergies can also cause people to breathe from their mouths, causing dry mouth.
  • Medications: Some medications can indirectly produce bad breath by contributing to dry mouth. Others can be broken down in the body to release chemicals that can be carried on your breath.
  • Oral Infections: Bad breath can be caused by surgical wounds after oral surgery, such as tooth removal, or as a result of tooth decay, gum disease or mouth sores.
  • Other Causes: Diseases, such as some cancers, and conditions such as metabolic disorders, can cause a distinctive breath odour as a result of chemicals they produce. Chronic reflux of stomach acids (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) can be associated with bad breath.

REMEDIES FOR BAD BREATH:

  • Mouth Rinses And Toothpastes: If your bad breath is due to a build-up of bacteria (plaque) on your teeth, it is recommended to use a mouth rinse that kills the bacteria. A toothpaste that contains an antibacterial agent to kill the bacteria that cause plaque build-up should also be used.
  • Treatment Of Dental Disease:  Gum disease can cause gums to pull away from your teeth, leaving deep pockets that fill with odour-causing bacteria. Only professional cleaning by a dentist removes these bacteria. Faulty restorations which are causing an accumulation of these plaque forming bacteria, should also be replaced.

PREVENTION OF BAD BREATH:

  • Brush Your Teeth After You Eat: Keep a toothbrush at work to use after eating. Brush using a fluoride containing toothpaste at least twice a day, especially after meals. Even rinsing after meals is good habit to prevent the accumulation of food.
  • Floss At Least Once A Day: Proper flossing removes food particles and plaque from between your teeth, helping to control bad breath.
  • Brush Your Tongue: Your tongue harbours bacteria, so carefully brushing it may reduce odours. People who have a coated tongue from a significant overgrowth of bacteria (from smoking or dry mouth, for example) may benefit from using a tongue scraper.
  • Clean Dentures Or Dental Appliances: If you wear a bridge or a denture, clean it thoroughly at least once a day. If you have a dental retainer or mouth guard, remove them at night and keep them in fresh water and clean them each time before you put it in your mouth.
  • Avoid Dry Mouth: To keep your mouth moist, avoid tobacco and drink plenty of water. Chew gum or suck on candy (preferably sugarless) to stimulate saliva. Chew a piece of lemon or orange rind for a mouth freshening burst of flavour. The citric acid will stimulate the salivary glands and fight bad breath.
  • Adjust Your Diet: Avoid foods such as onions and garlic that can cause bad breath. Eating a lot of sugary foods is also linked with bad breath.
  • Change Toothbrush At Regular Intervals: Change your toothbrush when it becomes frayed, about every three to four months, and choose a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Chew A Handful Of Cloves, Fennel Seeds or Aniseeds: Their antiseptic qualities help fight halitosis causing bacteria. Chew a fresh sprig of parsley, basil, mint, or cilantro. The chlorophyll in these green plants neutralizes odours.

Schedule regular dental check-ups. A professional dental check-up and clean-up is recommended every 6 months to clean any plaque and tartar accumulation.

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