The condition of suffering from bad breath is commonly known as halitosis in the medical field. It is also known as fetor Oris, Stomatodysodia or ozostomia and it affects 1 in every 4 people globally. The terms describe a condition where even after brushing your teeth, flossing, using an alcohol-free mouthwash, you still have a foul smell emanating from your mouth otherwise chronic bad breath.
However, regardless of the medical term used, having a foul-smelling mouth is an embarrassing trait. And it has historically been regarded as such.
In fact, anthropologists reckon that as soon humans began kissing as a show of affection, the kind of breath that one had became an influencing factor in the compatibility test between mates. Typically, if one had bad breath, finding a mate became a tad hard. Even today, this condition does negatively affect one’s life on a personal level.
Having halitosis has been found to negatively affect one’s confidence.
Persistent and or recurring episodes of halitosis diminish the confidence that one has, which has a negative impact on the individuals’ relationships. With this in mind, it is important to acquaint yourself with the causes of bad breath and the various solutions that you can use.
Causes Of Bad Breath
The Academy of General Dentistry reckons that over 90% of all bad breath emanates from the tonsils, mouth and the mouth. Such odor is created by anaerobic bacteria that are part of our oral flora. Their function is to break-down foods in the mouth, especially proteins, which they break down to amino acids.
However, since the bacteria, being anaerobic do not require oxygen to thrive and function, their activities result in the production of sulfur compounds such as methyl mercaptan, hydrogen sulfide, and much more. Therefore, in the case of halitosis, the anaerobic bacteria in the mouths tend to produce volatile sulfur-based compounds unchecked.
With this in mind, we will explore some of the causes of bad breath. These are the conditions or habits that cause the bacteria in our mouths to run on over-drive, thereby producing more of the sulfur compounds than normal.
#1. Poor Dental Hygiene
This is a no-brainer.
Poor oral hygiene will definitely cause bad breath. This is because there will always be a constant supply of nutrients in the mouth to break down. Furthermore, unlike the certain organ like the skin, teeth cannot shed the upper layer at.
As such, the teeth provide a permissive environment for bacteria to cling on and thrive.
Over time, the micro-organisms in the mouth build to form a plaque, which affects the gum. As a result, whenever, there is a presence of food particles in the mouth, the bacteria break down the food, causing bad breath.
Additionally, the plaque may cause gingivitis that causes bleeding gums. The bleeding gums supply the bacteria in the plaque with nutrients, causing bad breath.
Our diets tend to have a significant influence on the state of our breath, much more than many people appreciate. For instance, consuming foods that contain sulfur compounds has the effect of exacerbating the bad breaths.
Such foods include onions and garlic.
On the other hand, consuming foods with a high amount of proteins increases the amount of food in the mouth for the bacteria to feed on. Food such as dairy, fish, and meat are dense in proteins, which provide ample amounts of foods for the bacteria.
The same case applies for highly refined sugars. Such sugar is easily digested by the bacteria, allowing the bacteria to thrive.
Keeping with foods, there is also the issue of acidic foods. For the anaerobic bacteria to breed and thrive, they require an acidic environment.
As such, over-consumption of acidic foods and beverages such as acidic juices and coffee helps the anaerobic bacteria in our mouths to thrive, and, therefore, increase their population.
#3. Xerostomia/Dry Mouth
A dry mouth is a prime environment for anaerobic bacteria to function. As such, in instances where a person experiences prolonged periods of dry mouth, they are susceptible to suffering from halitosis.
Dry mouth is the main cause of bad breath that we typically get in the morning as there is little to no saliva production whilst we sleep. Other instances that cause dry mouth include drinking alcohol, smoking, snoring, and speaking for long periods.
So make sure you have a bottle of water sitting beside your bed at night for the next morning and drink enough water each day.
On the other hand, there are people who generally experience dry mouth as a medical condition. In such cases, they do not produce ample saliva as they normally should.
This means, their mouths are constantly providing a good environment for anaerobic bacteria to thrive.
#4. Diseases, Illnesses, And Medication
Studies have shown that approximately 10% of people who suffer from halitosis have the condition due to an illness.
Diseases such as cancer, diabetes, kidney diseases, liver ailments, metabolic disorders, bronchitis, and pneumonia cause a dry mouth. Therefore, they have a potential of causing bad breath.
On the other hand, ailments such as yeast infections and tonsil stones also cause or exacerbate the condition.
Certain drugs such as antihistamines and high blood pressure medication are also known to cause dry mouth, thereby causing bad breath.
Tonsil and gum infections like tonsilloliths, tonsillitis and gingivitis can also be a cause of halitosis. They can produce sulfur producing bacteria like those discussed above.
#5. Tobacco Products
Consuming tobacco products through (smoking or chewing tobacco products) the mouth has the unwanted effect of causing dry mouth.
Additionally, such behavior increases the possibility of causing the bacteria in the mouth to form toxins, thereby by causing bad breath.
The best treatment for bad breath should be based on the underlying cause. While you can alleviate the extent of the problem by using brushing and scraping the tongue and using non-alcoholic mouthwash, these solutions do not get rid of the underlying cause.
For instance, if your bad breath is linked to smoking, you can try to reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke and eventually stop.
If your bad breath is caused by dry mouth, you can try to stimulate salivation by chewing gum mints that are sugar-free. You should also form a habit of drinking plenty of water (prioritize!).
Importantly, you should always take good care of your mouth. Proper oral health care helps you manage the bacteria that are your mouth and get rid of food particles that form the largest portion of bacteria foods.
Additionally, you should use advanced methods and products for oral care. Floss as recommended by your dentist; use toothpaste and mouthwash that has been shown to be successful in dealing with bad breath.
Finally, consume a diet that is well balanced. Do not eat meals with excessive amounts of proteins and little to no other nutrient. Consume fruits and vegetables that will naturally balance the bacteria population in your mouth to the right amount.
However, for the best way to deal with bad breath, you should consult your doctor.