Halitosis is an oral health condition characterized by occasional or chronic bad breath. Common causes for occasional halitosis include smoking drinking alcohol and coffee and eating foods like garlic onions curries salamis and cheeses. Most halitosis originates as a result of sulfur gases produced by bacteria in the mouth. Gum disease is the most common reason for halitosis as the plaque that forms between the gum and the tooth is made up of bacteria food particles and dead gum cells. Colds and throat infections also cause bacteria growth as mucus serves as a breeding ground for bacteria.
As most halitosis originates in the mouth the primary cause is poor oral hygiene. Proper brushing of the teeth cheeks tongue and roof of the mouth along with flossing will remove bacteria plaque and food particles. Using a plastic tongue scraper will also help by scraping away bacteria that builds on the tongue.
Saliva is responsible for keeping mouth odor under control because it washes away food particles and bacteria. During sleep saliva production slows down and food residues stagnate in the mouth encouraging bacteria to grow and resulting in ﾓmorning breath.ﾔ Most morning breath disappears when saliva starts to flow again after brushing teeth and eating the first meal of the day. Chewing sugar-free gum also increases saliva production and helps control bad breath odor. Beware of antihistamines and antidepressants which can cause a dry mouth and reduced saliva flow.
Medical reasons for halitosis include sinus or lung infections diabetes kidney failure metabolic disorders liver disease post-nasal drip and acid reflux.
People who suspect they have bad breath may want to lick the inside of their wrist wait a few seconds then sniff the area to see if it smells bad. People who suffer from halitosis should visit their dentist regularly to minimize plaque and bacteria build up. Dentists can also perform tests to measure the sulfur gases in the mouth and determine the extent of a halitosis problem and they can recommend products such as mouth rinses and special toothpastes that may reduce the bad breath odor.
Herbs such as thyme eucalyptus tea tree clove caraway sage and peppermint have been shown to protect against bacterial growth in the mouth. Nutritional supplements such as zinc vitamin c folic acid vitamin e selenium and coenzyme Q10 have been recommended for prevention and treatment of gum disease however taking supplements or herbs should be discussed with a doctor or dentist prior to using them to treat halitosis.