Halitosis (bad breath)

Halitosis or bad breath is experienced by a great many people and can be a major source of embarrassment. These people may not realise that they suffer from this but those that do try to hide this by covering their mouth when they speak or avoiding social situations.

It is basically an unpleasant smell on your breath that is noticeable when you breathe out (exhale) or talk to other people. And that is the problem: it tends to be other people that notice it rather than yourself.

If you think that you have halitosis then you can always get a good (and honest) friend to tell you if this is the case. Or ask a member of your family.

Another option is to ask your dentist at your regular check up. He or she will be able to tell you if you have bad breath as well as providing advice on how to treat it.

What causes bad breath?

There is more than one cause. Bad breath is often caused by a build up of bacteria inside your mouth which happens as a result of plaque, lingering food deposits or a ‘furred’ tongue. It can also be symptom of gum disease.

Certain foods such as garlic and spicy foods such as curries can also case bad breath along with smoking and some types of medications. If you are taking any prescription medicines then check with your GP to see if they can cause bad breath. Examples include some chemotherapy drugs, dimethyl and amphetamines.

If you are trying to lose weight via extreme dieting or a ‘crash diet’ then be aware that this can cause bad breath. Crash dieting can lead to the formation of ketones which are produced as a result of the breakdown of fat. These are breathed out by the body and have a ‘sickly sweet’ smell.

Some medical conditions will cause bad breath. These include nasal problems, lung, mouth or throat infections.

How can it be treated?

A good oral hygiene routine which include regular tooth brushing, flossing, mouthwashes and reduced sugar intake can help as well as a visit to your dentist.

Other people use sugar free gum which they chew after every meal. This increases the amount of saliva in the mouth which flushes away any food particles.

If you have a coating on your tongue then ‘tongue cleaning’ can help. It’s a good idea to do this every day as part of your oral routine and can be done using a soft toothbrush. However, you will find that a plastic scraper, bought from your local chemist, works best. It is more flexible and better at scraping away this coating.

Place this as far back in your mouth as you can and scrape it forward over your tongue to remove the coating.

If any of these don’t work then consult your doctor or dentist.

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