BAD BREATH: CAUSES, DIAGNOSIS, AND TREATMENT

16th November 2021

Bad Breath: Causes, Diagnosis, And Treatment

Bad breath, also called oral malodour or halitosis, is a common and curable condition for many grown-ups. Bad breath can be caused by certain foods, health conditions, and poor oral health habits. In many instances, bad breath can be improved with consistent and proper oral hygiene.

WHAT CAUSES BAD BREATH?

There are a number of reasons you might have bad breath. While many causes are harmless, bad breath can sometimes be a sign of something more serious.

Bacteria. Bad breath can happen anytime thanks to the hundreds of types of bad breath-causing bacteria that naturally lives in your mouth. When you eat, bacteria feed on the food left in your mouth and leaves a foul-smelling waste product behind.

Dry Mouth. Dry mouth might be due to the fact that your mouth is not be making enough saliva. Saliva is important because it constantly wash out your mouth. If you don’t have enough, your mouth isn’t being cleaned as much as it should be. Dry mouth can be caused by certain medications, salivary gland problems or by simply breathing through your mouth aka mouth breathing.

Gum Disease. Bad breath that just won’t go away or a constant bad taste in your mouth can be a warning sign of advanced gum disease, which is caused by a sticky, cavity-causing bacteria called plaque.

Food. Garlic, onions, coffee, certain spices and more.

Smoking and Tobacco. Smoking not only stains your teeth, it also gives you bad breath and puts you at risk for a host of health problems.

Medical Conditions. Mouth infections can cause bad breath. Your bad breath could be the result of another problem, such as a sinus condition, gastric reflux, diabetes, liver or kidney disease.

HOW TO IDENTIFY BAD BREATH?

The most common testing method for bad breath is by using the "lick wrists method". Lick your wrist starting from as far back on the tongue as you could, wait for few seconds, then take a sniff on it. This would give you a rough idea on your condition.

Another similar method is by using a spoon. Gently scrap the back of your tongue with the tip of the spoon, give it a minute to dry and then smell it.

HOW TO PREVENT BAD BREATH?

Bad breath can be prevented by practicing good dental cleanliness routine such as;

Brush regularly to remove the food debris and plaque.

Remember to brush the tongue too.

Change your toothbrush every 3 months or when it starts to fray.

Flossing or use of interdental brush to remove food and plaque between teeth daily.

Rinse your mouth with a mouthwash twice a day.

Remove your dentures at night and clean it before using it again the next day.

Lifestyle change (quit smoking, change in diet)

Visit a dentist regularly, they could detect and treat a periodontal disease, dry mouth or other underlying problems that may cause bad breath. A dentist could conduct a dental examination and professional scaling and polishing to treat the condition.

The Author

Dr. Ben Gee (BDS, SEGi) is a board certified general dentist with special interest in orthodontics and aesthetic dentistry. He is an unusual combination of a dentist and social media influencer, he has an army of 180,000 Instagram followers and attracted close to 3 million followers on TikTok. He is currently practicing dentistry at Q & M Dental (Bandar Mahkota Cheras).

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