The Causes of Bad Breath… and How to Stop Halitosis in its Tracks
Bad breath, or halitosis to give the condition its medical term, affects around 1 in 4 people in the UK. However, it’s still not widely discussed, and those who suffer with halitosis tend not to seek out treatment for their condition.
Whilst suffering from bad breath can leave you feeling self-conscious, it’s important to remember that it’s a common issue, and it’s relatively easy to address.
What Causes Halitosis?
In 90% of all cases, the origin of unpleasant smelling breath is within the mouth itself. More often than not, the root cause is bacteria, which develop in the mouth because of poor oral hygiene.
It is not the bacteria themselves that cause the distinctive smell, but the sulphur compounds that they release when breaking down protein. Believe it or not, there are thought to be as many as 82 types of bacteria or yeasts that like to reside in our mouths, and most are capable of producing unpleasant smells!
In addition to the bacteria, abscesses in the roots of your teeth may be adding to the odour. Sometimes, bad breath can also be caused by excess catarrh entering the mouth from the sinuses and nose, which in turn, provides a breeding ground for further bacteria to multiply.
Of course, there are also certain foods that can cause the breath to smell; such as spicy foods or pungent tasting foods such as garlic. Smoking and coffee also contribute to halitosis.
Is it Ever Serious?
In the vast majority of cases, halitosis is nothing to be too concerned about; though it is important to recognise that it is sometimes associated with poor dental hygiene. As a result, you may want to check with your dentist that you are following a suitable oral hygiene routine.
However, bad breath should never be ignored, particularly if you’ve had it for an extended period of time, or if it’s particularly severe. In rare cases, it can even be a sign of a more serious health problem; such as gastric diseases, diabetes or a lung infection.
Top Tips to Stop Bad Breath
If you suffer from bad breath and feel self-conscious about it, here are some steps you can take to address the problem.
- Dental hygiene. The most effective way of eradicating halitosis is to get into a good dental hygiene routine. Brush each morning and evening, and make sure you floss regularly, to remove food between the teeth, which can feed bacteria. A tongue scraper will also help to get rid of bacteria, particularly those living towards the back of the tongue.
- Boost saliva production. Saliva is your body’s best natural defence against bad breath. It’s rich in oxygen, which helps to destroy anaerobic bacteria, and it also helps to remove food particles between the teeth. Chewing on apples, carrots or celery will help. Chewing gum is also effective, and helps freshen the breath.
- Avoid certain foods. Garlic and onions are obvious culprits for bad breath. However, if you want to get rid of halitosis, you may also want to avoid dairy products, as lactose proteins actively feed bacteria. Coffee and alcohol can also exacerbate the problem, as do sugary foods.
There are many reasons why you may be suffering from halitosis. If you’re unable to cure it using the methods above, it’s worth booking an appointment with your GP, to check that you haven’t got an underlying health problem that is having an adverse effect on your breath.