Bad breath: Do you have it? You may not know you do

Jamaica Gleaner - - ORAL HEALTH FEATURE -

MOST PEO­PLE are un­aware of the fact that they have bad breath, or ‘hal­i­to­sis’ as den­tal pro­fes­sion­als re­fer to it. Ac­tu­ally, one in four peo­ple have bad breath and some stud­ies have re­ported that ap­prox­i­mately 50 per cent of the adult pop­u­la­tion does have it. In fact, it is es­ti­mated that nearly 60 mil­lion peo­ple will suf­fer from chronic hal­i­to­sis in the United States.


Bad breath can be caused by ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal fac­tors. Ex­ter­nal fac­tors can be the types of foods that we eat such as spicy or odor­ous in na­ture (cer­tain spices used in cook­ing, gar­lic, onions even tuna or ta­cos). If you think your bad breath is re­lated to the foods that you are con­sum­ing, con­sider record­ing the food you are eat­ing to de­ter­mine if this is the rea­son. Peo­ple who use to­bacco and al­co­hol can also ex­pe­ri­ence bad breath.

In­ter­nal fac­tors in­clude oral fac­tors that can af­fect the body sys­tem­i­cally. The tongue pro­vides a place for bac­te­ria to at­tach and grow. Most odour-caus­ing bac­te­ria pro­duce com­pounds that cause bad breath called volatile sul­phur com­pounds (VSCs). These pri­mary VSCs that cause bad breath are hy­dro­gen sul­fide and methyl mer­cap­tan. Most of these odour-caus­ing bac­te­ria re­side in the pos­te­rior area of the tongue. Other causes of bad breath can in­clude the fol­low­ing: Den­tal is­sues (poor oral hy­giene, gin­givi­tis and pe­ri­odon­tal dis­ease). Den­tures (plaque and food can de­velop on den­tures). Dry mouth (lack of saliva flow). Mouth, nose and throat is­sues (si­nus or throat in­fec­tions and cryp­tic ton­sil­li­tis). Sys­temic dis­eases (di­a­betes, lung in­fec­tions or ab­scesses, kid­ney/liver fail­ure, gas­troin­testi­nal con­di­tions). Pa­tients who are di­et­ing on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. Please see your den­tal pro­fes­sional for a den­tal ap­point­ment to de­ter­mine why you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing bad breath, and con­tinue to prop­erly clean your mouth with an an­tibac­te­rial flu­o­ride tooth­paste, floss daily and clean your tongue with a tongue brush or scraper.

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