Bad breath, scientifically named halitosis, is a very common problem that affects many people. Our first association is poor oral hygiene, but it can actually have numerous causes.
They are primarily divided into:
- pathological causes, and
- physiological causes.
Due to changes in hormone status, it is possible that bad breath can occur during pregnancy or menstruation. It can also appear during menopause due to dry mouth and reduced secretion from the salivary glands. These factors cannot be changed but they can be simply covered up with certain products. Bacteria that make up desirable microflora normally live inside the mouth. Bad breath is most commonly caused by the presence of anaerobic bacteria within the oral cavity. This environment suits their multiplication and this leads to sediments accumulation between the teeth. This is one of the reasons why dentists insist on using dental floss at least once a day. Normal bacteriological process is decomposition of sediments and releasing compounds such as nitrogen and sulfur. Teeth diseases and various throat infections are also frequent causes of bad breath.
How does food influence the occurrence of bad breath?
After consumption, certain types of food, such as onion and cabbage, may release unpleasant smells through the lungs. When we predominantly eat greasy and protein-rich food, its decomposition in the bowls can cause bad breath. For the mouth bacteria to multiply and be active, pH value in the mouth is essential. Food with lower pH values helps and accelerates decomposition of sediments and encourages new development of bacterial flora.
Medicaments and diseases
When you take antibiotics for a longer period of time, bad breath can occur as a by-product of disrupted mouth and stomach microflora. Deeper fissures may appear on the tongue, which favours the multiplication of bacteria. Diseases such as diabetes, gingivitis and liver and kidney diseases may also cause bad breath. Poor maintenance of dentures not only causes unpleasant smell but it also has a detrimental effect on many processes in the organism.
Role of saliva in causing bad breath
Given that it’s rich in oxygen and that it prevents anaerobic bacteria to develop and reproduce, the presence of saliva enables a kind of self-cleaning of the mouth. Any condition that leads to reduced secretion form the salivary glands favours the creation of bacterial flora inside the mouth. Bad breath in the morning is a consequence of reduced salivation during the night. All bodily processes that lead to dehydration (medicines, climate changes…) reduce the amount of saliva and are directly responsible for bad breath. Alcohol and cigarettes also make the mouth dry, so apart from their specific smell, they provoke a series of other inconvenience.
How to get rid of bad breath?
The most important is to identify causes of this unpleasant condition. Simple masking and cover-up with rinsing liquids and chewing gums is not enough. The cause is easiest to eliminate if it is related to poor hygiene. Removal of dental plaque and calculus should lead to significantly lower amount of bacteria. Periodontal socket treatment will reduce food supply for the bacteria. Try to avoid tooth pastes that contain sodium sulfate compounds, because these are one of the most frequent causes of lack of salivation. When the causes are systemic diseases, only their complete treatment can lead to improvements of this condition.
Finally, a very important piece of advice: never skip breakfast. Morning hunger can activate unpleasant smells from the stomach and bowls and lead to bad breath. Make sure to drink enough liquid during the day!