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Bad Breath

Posted on: 08-06-2007

How often have we avoided a conversation with someone who hasn't put anything in his/ her mouth because an unpleasant odor comes out with each and every single word he/ she says?

What are the causes of bad breath?
How are we supposed to react to it?
How are we supposed to avoid it?
How are we supposed to be cured of it?

What is bad breath?
It is an unpleasant odor that comes out of the mouth at the time of expiration or at the simple opening of the mouth.

In most cases, the origin of bad breath is oral or dental. In other cases, and less frequently, it might be due to a certain illness or a disorder in the body or even secondary to alimentary or other products.

What happens in the mouth?
The bacteria transform the substratum (food residues, epithelial cells…) which becomes volatile and malodorous. This bacterial deterioration takes place basically on three levels: 1- the tongue; 2- the gum and 3- the teeth.

The causes:
The causes are numerous:

•  Oral origin:

•  Bad oral hygiene

•  Gum inflammation and illnesses

•  Presence of caries

•  Accumulation of food particles between the teeth

•  Dental infections or abscesses

•  Accumulation of bacteria and food debris on the tongue

•  Dry mouth

•  Various others:

•  Tobacco

•  Certain kinds of foods: garlic, onions…

•  Certain medicines and supplements

•  Certain illnesses: diabetes, dehydration, renal and hepatic problems

•  Certain respiratory illnesses: chronic bronchitis, abscess, tumor, sinusitis, laryngitis, post nasal secretion.

•  Certain intestinal troubles: gastro esophageal reflux

•  Psychiatric causes: pseudo halitosis: the case of someone who imagines that he/ she has bad breath. In this case, this problem is not felt by others.

A simple test can confirm the origin of bad breath whether it was local or general. It might be done in two different manners:

1- Blow through the nostrils while maintaining the mouth and the lips closed. If the odor appears, it is due to a general cause.

2- Hold the nose and close the mouth for a few seconds without breathing then open it. If the bad breath appears then the cause is local.

Treatment and preventive measures:

Oral hygiene:
•  Visit the dentist to learn the ways of taking care of your mouth.

•  The dentist might even treat the caries and the periodontal problems and eliminate the tartar.

•  Brush the teeth for two minutes approximately and at least twice per day after the meals.

•  Brush the tongue with a special tool or with a toothbrush.

•  Use a dental floss to get rid of the food debris between the teeth.

•  Remove the denture at night and put it after cleaning in a disinfectant solution.

•  In case the mouth is dry, the doctor could prescribe "artificial saliva" or other pharmaceutical sugar free products (pastilles or chewing gums) that can produce saliva.

Other measures:
•  Reduce the consumption of garlic, tobacco, onions, spices, and alcohol

•  In case the dentist does not diagnose an illness in the mouth, he/ she can refer you to your family doctor.

Many market products such as mouthwashes, chewing gums, and sprays hide the bad breath temporarily but do not treat it.

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