Halitosis can be due to problem in mouth, airways or in the GIT (gastrointestinal tract). Following are the causes:
The causes of halitosis that are in the mouth:
- Dental carries and gum disease
- Presence of food particles in between teeth
- Dry mouth also known as xerostomia
- Infection of throat or tonsils
- Any infection (generally purulent infection) in the mouth
The causes of halitosis that are in the airways:
- Dryness of airways
- Foreign body in the airway
- Obstruction to the airway and mucus flow
The causes of halitosis that are in GIT (mainly stomach and esophagus):
- Food stagnation
- Reflux of food and gastric acid
Other than the above mentioned causes of halitosis, it can also be caused by many other factors like the Food we eat, use of tobacco and tobacco products (like cigarettes, and other tobacco products), liver and kidney problems may also cause bad breath. Cigarettes not only cause bad breath, it can stain the teeth on which bacteria may grow. Cigarettes smoking also cause other health problems which everybody is aware of.
Sometimes halitosis or bad breath can be an indication of serious health problem and halitosis should not be ignored and appropriately by consulting your doctor. But in general halitosis is mainly caused by some pathology in the oral cavity which can be corrected by dentists with proper treatment.
How halitosis is diagnosed?
The presence of bad odor is enough to diagnose halitosis, but the main problem is to establish the cause of halitosis. Ask your dentist/partner/friend/acquaintance/relative if you have bad breath or not and consult your dentist to get it treated properly. To find out the cause of halitosis it is important to find out any oral cause as it is the commonest cause of halitosis. A dentist will find out if there is any oral pathology behind halitosis. If there is no oral pathology than other causes should be investigated by other specialist doctors as referred by your dentist. You also need to maintain a diary for the food you eat and the medicines you take for other ailments, which can help to find if halitosis is due to food or medications you are taking. The most important is to have regular visits to your dentist, ideally and recommended is every 6 months.
What is the treatment of halitosis?
The most important part of treatment of halitosis is establishing the cause of the problem and treating the cause. There are various causes of halitosis and treatment varies according to the cause. As the commonest cause of halitosis is oral pathology, it is important to get treated by a dentist. If it is due to gum disease it should be treated appropriately.
To do list to prevent halitosis:
- Maintain good oral and dental hygiene. Use mouthwash to maintain oral hygiene and it should be just used before going to bed.
- It is important to brush teeth at least twice a day after having meal, ideally we should brush after every meal. More important is to brush after dinner and not to eat anything afterwards. Brushing is essential to remove food particles and plaques. You should brush or clean your tongue with tongue cleaner, at least once a day.
- Use dental floss once a day or inter-dental cleaner after dinner to clean in between your teeth, where food particles may not be cleaned with brushing and bacteria may grow, which can cause dental carries and bad breath.
- Rinse your mouth after eating certain food items like milk or milk products, any sticky food item, fish, meat etc.
- Take plenty of liquids everyday, but avoid excess beverages like coffee or tea.
- Keep your bowel normal by eating lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and foods with high natural fibers.
- If your mouth becomes dry, you can chew sugarfree chewing gum.
- Use fluoride toothpaste to prevent dental carries, but avoid excess fluorine as fluorine is like two edged sword and excess fluorine in toothpaste or water can cause fluorosis (a type erosion of the enamel of teeth).
- Visit your dentist regularly. Most experts advise visit to a dentist every six months, to clean your teeth and maintain good oral and dental health.