Bad breath, or halitosis, can cause personal and social discomfort.
In most cases it is a temporary condition. Morning breath is a perfect example. It is caused by decreased saliva flow during sleep, combined with reduced movement of the tongue and cheeks. A wholesome, well-balanced breakfast and brushing your teeth and tongue is enough to restore fresh breath.
Bad breath results from the action of bacteria that causes the protein in food particles and other matter to decompose. This process generates foul-smelling gases that mingle with your breath.
The main causes of bad breath are:
- gum disease and inflammation
- poor oral hygiene
- cavities and faulty restorations
- food particles left between the teeth
- mouth breathing, which dries out the mucosa
- decreased saliva flow
- accumulation of bacteria and food debris on the tongue
Most cases of bad breath can be treated by improving oral hygiene. Proper brushing technique, combined with the use of dental floss and a tongue scraper, generally help to eliminate the problem.
If bad breath continues despite good oral hygiene and there is no sign of infection, the following causes should be considered:
- tobacco and alcohol
- foods such as garlic and onions
- certain medications or supplements
The following illnesses can also cause bad breath:
- kidney or liver problems
- some respiratory diseases or infections of the lungs, sinuses, larynx or nose
- gastro-intestinal disturbances, such as acid reflux
In these cases, the patient is referred to a specialist for diagnosis and appropriate treatment.