Everyone has some time or other wondered if they have bad breath, maybe even let out a breath into their palm to get a quick whiff of it. There are many reasons as to why people have bad breath, which is medically known as halitosis. This condition occurs due to bad oral hygiene and can even be a sign or symptom of another health problem. To enlighten us on this matter the Health Capsule spoke to Dr. Pravna Dunuwille, Dental Surgeon, who spoke about the causes of bad breath and how to prevent and manage it.
Dr. Dunuwille explained that there are a variety of causes for bad breath or halitosis such as oral, respiratory psychiatric and other factors. “The first one is the oral causes which are related to the mouth. This includes poor oral hygiene, which is improper brushing and flossing of teeth and infections in the oral cavity. Dental caries or gum diseases can also cause halitosis. Another oral cause is dry mouth, which is caused by salivary glands,” said Dr. Dunuwille.
Speaking of the respiratory and other deeper causes for bad breath she said, “Respiratory causes such as throat infections, viruses, lung infection or bronchitis can cause bad breath. Then there are other illnesses, including gastric problems such as gastric reflux, gastric cancers, liver diseases and kidney diseases, which can also cause halitosis or bad breath.
She further went on to explain the exterior and psychological causes of bad breath. “There are exterior causes such as what you eat and drink like garlic, coffee and onions. Even smoking can cause bad breath. There are even cases where people think that they have bad breath when they really don’t have it which is called pseudo halitosis which comes under the psychological causes for it,”she explained.
What you eat can affect your breath
Speaking of how the bad breath originates due to the oral causes Dr. Dunuwille said, “When someone maintains poor oral hygiene, it leads to gum diseases and due to the gum diseases this bad breath occurs. The microorganism which causes gum diseases is called anaerobic bacteria which are organisms that don’t need oxygen for respiration,”said Dr. Dunuwille.
She further said, “When there is poor oral hygiene and people don’t brush or floss properly, what happens is that food gets accumulated between the gum and the teeth. When this happens the gum gets inflamed and because of this pockets are formed. And since there is no oxygen inside the pockets it is a suitable environment for these anaerobic bacteria to form and they keep growing there. When this bacteria grows in between the teeth and the gum it causes gum disease, which is also called gingivitis, which in turn causes bad breath. Sometimes when the halitosis becomes severe due to the worsening of gum disease there is a pus discharge called pyorrhoea,”she explained.
Furthermore, she said, “When it comes to exterior causes such as garlic and coffee the substances inside such items cause it. Furthermore, some such items can release gases when digested, which causes the bad breath,”said Dr. Dunuwille.
Prevention and management
Speaking on how to prevent and manage bad breath, Dr. Dunuwille said, “To manage bad breath orally you have to clean up the tongue, use mouthwashes such as chlorhexidine, floss and brush regularly, go for regular clean ups, gum massages and basically maintain good oral hygiene.You can even be given antibiotics such as the topical application of metrogyl. Vitamin C can even be used in order to increase the healing of the gums. Some people think that just because the gum is bleeding they should not brush it, but even if it is bleeding you have to brush it and keep it clean,”she affirmed.
She further said, “For the other diseases you have to treat the underlying cause for the disease to manage the bad breath. And for the psychiatric illness you will have to go for counseling. Giving up smoking can also help with treating bad breath because smoking stains the teeth and can cause plaque build up which can worsen bad breath”.
Who treats bad breath?
Speaking of who treats bad breath she said, “For the oral causes you have to go to the dentist and they will manage it as said before. First of all, if it is poor oral hygiene, then they should be advised on what they should do and a clean up should be done. And if it is due to dental caries then they will have to fill the cavities. Due to the dental caries there can be food stagnation, so again there you can get bad breath”.
Dr.Dunuwille further said that if all oral causes are ruled out then the patient should refer to other specialists to find out the underlying cause.