Causes of “Bad Breath” or “Halitosis”

Some people having bad breath will not realize that they have bad breath, while other people will be repelled by the unpleasant odour and find it difficult to stay near and talk to them. On the contrary, some people will think that they have bad breath, while others may not feel any bad smell from them.
Unpleasant and bad smell/ odour coming out of our mouth/ breath is called “Bad Breath” or “Halitosis”. It will be either temporary or long lasting and continuous, depending on the cause. Mostly bad breath is due to bacteria in the mouth. Bad breath in the morning when we get up from bed is normal, which will disappear on brushing the teeth and flossing the mouth.
Normally, bad breath originates from:-
· the mouth,
· the surface of the tongue,
· the backside of the tongue,
· below the gum line,
· in between the gums and the lips/inner mouth and
· in between the teeth.
Normally, bad smell/odour does not come from stomach or lungs. The odour coming from the stomach is the smell of sore-burping due to indigestion. When food items with onions, garlic and spicy items are eaten the breath from the lungs will have the odour of onions, garlic and spices.

In our mouth different kinds of bacteria will be present. The bacteria causing bad odour cannot survive in the presence of oxygen. In the area below the tongue and in between the gums ans the lips/inner mouth, the presence of oxygen will be less and the odour causing bacteria will be present in such areas and spread the bad smell in the breath. These bacteria survive on proteins/ oral debris present in our mouth and they produce Volatile Sulphur Compounds. (VSC) Everyone will have some level of VSC in the mouth, but at low levels the nose cannot detect the odour. When the level of VSC becomes high the nose will detect the odour. Halitosis is rarely associated with certain medical conditions such as diabetes.

The causes of bad breath are:-
· Poor dental hygiene due to improper brushing of the teeth and flossing of the mouth,
· Infections of the mouth,
· Gum diseases,
· Respiratory tract infections
· Throat infections,
· Sinus infections,
· Lung infections,
· Stomach ulcers,
· Dry mouth due to salivary gland problems,
· Eating food with onions, garlic,
· Smoking,
· Chewing tobacco.

We have to keep our mouth clean, by brushing after every meal/eating, and floss well. Mouth-wash and mouth spraying will suppress the bad breath only temporarily. We have to get rid of the cause of the bad breath, to completely get relieved of bad breath.

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