Go to any supermarket or departmental store and you’d find row upon row of products – mouthwashes, gums, mints and a myriad others – which are said to fight bad breath. The sheer number of these products could only mean one thing; that this is a very common and widespread problem among people.
Yes, bad breath or halitosis, as it’s known formally, is widely prevalent and affects many people, though not to the same extent. Almost every other person has bad breath in the morning. However, for some, it’s a more pressing and serious issue which causes embarrassment and even anxiety, preventing them from making friends, building contacts or getting closer to people out of fear that their bad breath will put off others.
Of course, it could certainly prove to be uncomfortable to get close to a person with bad breath, but just like body odour, the person who has it may not be aware of the problem, making treatment more difficult. So, if you feel that you have bad breath, get a family member or a friend to verify it for you.
However, do products described as the ‘answer to bad breath’ actually do what they claim to do? They work to some extent; unfortunately, they are only temporary measures designed to disguise the problem. They don’t offer permanent solutions as they don’t address the underlying reason which causes halitosis.
Bad breath could be caused by certain foods, health conditions or dental habits or rather the lack of good dental habits such as regular brushing or flossing of teeth, which may result in the accumulation of food particles among the teeth and cavities. When bacteria works on these food particles, it could lead to bad breath. Not cleaning dentures or mouthguards properly may again cause bad breath.
You could first effect some lifestyle changes, which are certainly within your means. For instance, brushing your teeth and tongue twice a day, changing your toothbrush regularly so that it doesn’t harbour bacteria, using a mouthwash and drinking plenty of water are actions which you can carry out without any hindrance. And if you feel that your diet is a reason, you can give up such foods as onions, garlic, and other vegetables and spices, or at least reduce your consumption of them and see if that works.
Tobacco products are another leading cause of bad breath. Not only do they leave an unpleasant smell in your mouth, they also cause gum disease which is another cause of halitosis. Giving up tobacco would benefit every area of your health, as you yourself are bound to know.
Despite the popular belief that bad dental hygiene causes bad breath, this may not always be the case and there may be other underlying reasons for it, which a person may not be aware of. This is why a good discussion with your dentist is important in order to figure out what may be causing your halitosis.
These conditions include dry mouth which decreases the production of saliva in the mouth, thereby preventing the removal of particles which may eventually rot in the mouth, causing bad breath; infections in the mouth caused by oral surgical wounds, decaying teeth, gum disease or mouth sores and ulcers; mouth, nose and throat conditions such as small, bacterial-covered stones in the tonsils, chronic inflammations in the nose, throat and sinuses; and certain medications which cause dry mouth or release foul-smelling chemicals when broken down in the body. Diseases such as cancers, certain metabolic disorders and chronic acid reflux in the stomach can also result in halitosis. In small children, a foreign body in the nostrils such as a piece of toy or food could also cause bad breath.
Treatments for halitosis
Treatments may depend on the cause and could vary from person to person. If a buildup of bacterial or plaque is the cause of your bad breath, the dentist will recommend a mouth rinse that kills bacteria or an antibacterial toothpaste. Treatment for gum disease or faulty tooth restorations may also be recommended as the case may be.
Your dentist might refer you to another physician also if he/she believes that you may be suffering from some ailment without it being known to you.
Regular visits to the dentist are most important. In Dubai, one of the best dental clinics is the German Dental and Neuromuscular Clinic which is at Unit 1002, Cluster W, Tiffany Tower, Jumeirah Lake Towers.