Halitosis or bad breath is the presence of noticeably unpleasant odor of the mouth or air that is being exhaled by a person. Halitosis is one of the most common reasons for seeking dental care along with periodontal disease and tooth decay.
Information about halitosis
Halitosis is a common complaint of people, but people who have this usually have difficulty managing the problem, which gives them lesser confider in dealing with other propel. Before going into the treatments of halitosis, it is best to know some facts about it including:
- Up to 90% of cases of halitosis originate in the mouth.
- The intensity of bad breath differs at certain times of the day with the morning and several hours after meals as having the most severe intensity of bad breath because of factors such as food intake and dryness of the mouth.
- Bad breath is worse upon awakening because of the absence of oxygen in the mouth at night.
- Bad breath is transient meaning that it disappears at certain points in the day such as after brushing, rinsing or flossing, but usually appears again after some time.
What are the causes of Halitosis?
There are various causes of halitosis including:
- Tongue problems or failure to clean the tongue
The tongue usually harbors more bacteria than the teeth so it is the most common area in the mouth that causes bad breath. Bad breath causing microorganisms are usually found in the dorsal area of the tongue. The tongue also harbors food debris that usually coats the area, dead epithelial cells and post nasal drip, which contributes to the unpleasant smell.
- Dental problems
Problems in dentition are also common cause of halitosis, but tend to be less common than tongue problems. The presence of dental carries, plaques, and tartar usually harbors odor-causing bacteria that proliferate unless these dental problems are corrected.
- Gum disease
The presence of periodontal problems also causes bad breath. The development of waste products on the gum line is usually the cause of intense bad breath.
- Sinus infections
Bad breath also comes out from the nose aside from the mouth. The presence of sinus problems allows exhaled air to travel across the inflamed or infected nasal cavity leading to halitosis.
- Tonsillar abscess
The presence of infection in the tonsils is also a reason for halitosis. Tonsilloliths, which are small calcified materials in the tonsils, release an extremely foul odor during speaking or breathing.
- Esophageal problems
The presence of gastroesophageal reflux disease or acid reflux is a common cause of halitosis. When acids regurgitate from the stomach into the esophagus, gas from the stomach usually escape the mouth contributing to bad breath. A rare condition, Zenker’s diverticulum, also causes halitosis because aging food that is retained in the esophagus usually allows unpleasant odor to escape the mouth.
- Stomach conditions
The stomach may be an uncommon source of bad breath because the cardiac sphincter between the stomach and the esophagus usually prevents escape of gastric contents back to the mouth. However, in the case of gastroesophageal fistula, foul odor from the stomach may escape the opening into the esophagus and into the mouth.
- Other diseases
Other systemic conditions may also cause halitosis such as liver disease, renal failure, lower respiratory tract infections, diabetes mellitus, an even cancer.
How to Diagnose Halitosis
Halitosis is difficult to self-diagnose because the affected person usually is acclimatized with the odor of his or her breath. The most effective means of detecting halitosis is to ask other people about it. You must have your own confidant to ask about your condition.
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