Halitosis, commonly known as bad breath, is no laughing matter. Self confidence is important in life, and people who suffer from severe bad breath can experience low feelings of self worth. They may not want to mix with people, and may feel cut off from society. It can affect their work life, as well as their personal and family life. By understanding what causes halitosis, and finding an effective treatment, patients can make real improvements to their quality of life. Let’s look at some causes of halitosis.
What Is Halitosis?
It’s estimated that up to 20% of the population suffer from halitosis. Halitosis is a complaint that is commonly encountered by Dentists and Otolaryngologists, and it is often helpful for patients who believe that they have problem with bad breath to see a specialist. Many cases of halitosis originate in the mouth itself. A biofilm of bacteria may form below the gum line, or in the nooks and crannies of the mouth itself. Over time these can create foul smelling breath.
Poor, or inadequate, dental hygiene is a common source of halitosis. It’s important to brush your teeth thoroughly every day, and floss after meals. If this doesn’t happen, tiny particles of food can be trapped around the tongue, teeth and gums, and these are the source of halitosis causing bacteria. Anti-bacterial mouthwash can also be a good defense against halitosis caused by food. Some foods, as we know, are more likely to cause bad breath than others. These include foods such as garlic and onions that have a strong natural odor. As these foods are processed by the body, the odor will be present on your breath. This is a natural phenomenon, and should not be confused with halitosis itself.
Medical Conditions That Can Cause Halitosis
Not all bad breath is caused by the food we eat, or because of dental hygiene deficiencies. Some medical conditions can also make a significant contribution to halitosis. Gum disease, yeast infections, and diabetes can all lead to halitosis, as can sinusitis and acid reflux. Sinusitis sufferers may notice that the bad breath comes from the air that exits their nose, rather than that which comes out of their mouth. Sinusitis, along with some conditions caused by allergens, result in thick mucus production. When this mucus gathers at the back of your mouth and throat, it’s known as post-nasal drip, and can lead to malodorous breath.
Treatments For Halitosis
For non-dental causes of halitosis, treatments that resolve the initial condition, such as sinusitis, will often remove or diminish the halitosis. An ear, nose, and throat expert, an otolaryngologist, will be able to diagnose your condition, and provide the most effective treatment. Often these medical treatments are quite simple and sometimes just a nasal spray or other medication is required. As always, decisions on medical treatments should be made in consultation with a qualified health care provider. If you are suffering from halitosis, you might want to consider seeking an evaluation with a dentist or an otolaryngologist.