Halitosis (Bad Breath)
Causes of Bad Breath
If previously normal breath turns into halitosis (bad breath), causes may include:
- Food or beverages consumed (such as cabbage, garlic, raw onions, or coffee)
- Vitamin supplements (especially in large doses)
- Poor dental hygiene
- Tobacco smoking
- Throat infection
- Lung infection
- Gum disease (gingivitis, gingivostomatitis)
- Abscessed tooth
- Drugs – Paraldehyde, Triamterene, Insulin injection
There is also a possibility of bowel obstruction if a person is severely constipated. In such a case it may cause breath to smell like feces.
Diseases Associated With Breath Odor
Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis
Acute necrotizing ulcerative mucositis
Acute renal failure
Bowel obstruction (can cause breath to smell like feces)
Chronic renal failure (can cause breath to smell like ammonia)
Ozena, or atrophic rhinitis
- Proper dental hygiene (especially flossing) is required. Only mouthwashes are not effective in treating the underlying problem.
- Fresh parsley or a strong mint are often effective ways to fight temporary bad breath.
- Avoid smoking.
- Antibiotics may be required if the bad breath is due to an underlying tooth infection.
Dental Care and Further Prevention
Oral hygiene is the best means of prevention of cavities (dental caries), gingivitis, periodontitis, and other dental disorders. It also helps to prevent bad breath. Oral hygiene is necessary for all persons to maintain the health of their teeth and mouth. Healthy teeth have less cavities. They are clean and have minimal or no plaque deposits. Healthy gums are pink and firm.
Oral hygiene consists of both personal and professional care. Dental X-rays may be performed as part of routine professional examinations.
Careful brushing and flossing help to prevent build-up of plaque and calculus (tartar).
The teeth should be brushed at least twice daily and flossed at least once per day. For some people, brushing and flossing may be recommended after every meal and at bedtime. Consult the dentist or dental hygienist if instruction or demonstration of proper brushing and flossing techniques is needed.
Special appliances or tools may be used to supplement (but not to replace) tooth brushing and flossing. These include special toothpicks, toothbrushes, water irrigation, or other devices. Initially electric toothbrushes were only recommended for persons who have problems with strength or dexterity of their hands, but many dentists are now recommending them to many other patients in order to improve their dental home care.
Fluoride-containing, or anti-plaque (tartar control) toothpastes or mouth rinses may be used.
Dentures, retainers, and other appliances must be kept extremely clean. This includes regular brushing and may include soaking them in a cleansing solution.
Regular tooth cleaning by the dentist or dental hygienist is important to remove plaque that may develop even with careful brushing and flossing, especially in areas that are difficult for him to reach on his own at home. Professional cleaning includes scaling and polishing. This involves the use of various instruments or devices to loosen and remove deposits from the teeth.
It is recommended to have the teeth professionally cleaned every 6 months. More frequent cleaning and examination may be necessary during the treatment of many of the dental/oral disorders. Routine examination of the teeth is recommended at least every year. This may include yearly select dental X-rays.
If there is no improvement after taking necessary dental precautions, he may need to see a dentist for thorough oral examination. If his dental examination turns out to be normal, then an abdominal x-ray may be required to rule out bowel obstruction.