Kevin Adaba doesn’t have a girlfriend. Whenever he approaches a girl he likes, she rejects his advances. This has been going on for as long as Kevin can remember.
Kevin couldn’t explain why these girls don’t think twice before turning him down. He wondered whether he wasn’t handsome or comfortable enough to be loved by any as he approached 30.
But Unknown to Kevin, his mouth odor was the cause of his relationship problems. He discovered that he had bad breath when one of his friends told him that his breath stinks.
Like Kevin, many men, women and children are suffering from mouth odor also known as bad breath without knowing it.
According to a Dentist Alex Iwuoma, Halitosis also known as bad breath is an embarrassing health condition that affects approximately 30% of people around the world.
Bad breath is presence of a foul-smelling odor that seems to come from the mouth cavity. More than 90% of cases, the odour originates in the mouth, throat, and tonsils.
He said: “The foul oral odour is usually caused by a group of anaerobic, sulfur-producing bacteria that breed beneath the surface of the tongue and often in the throat and tonsil area. The term anaerobic literally means living without oxygen, and in fact, these bacteria do not require oxygen to live.”
They occur naturally in the oral environment and are essential because they assist in digestion by breaking down proteins into amino acids. Proteins are commonly found in food, mucus or phlegm, blood, and in diseased oral tissue.
According to Dr. Iwuoma, “As these bacteria feast on proteins in your mouth, sulfur compounds are released from the back of your tongue and throat. The bacteria excrete waste as hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan, and other odorous and bad tasting compounds known as volatile sulfur compounds.”
As long as the anaerobic bacteria feed on proteins and excrete volatile sulfur compounds unchecked, your breath will become worse.
Common causes of bad breath
- Dry mouth
Xerostomia, the medical term for dry mouth, provides a perfect environment for anaerobic bacteria reproduction. Long periods of speaking, smoking, drinking alcohol, and snoring are a few common underlying causes.
Dr. Iwuoma stated that “Most people experience foul breath in the morning due to lack of saliva production while they sleep. For healthy individuals, food odors are temporary and normal salivary flow will eliminate them within several minutes.”
Halitosis can be exacerbated by certain foods such as onions and garlic because they contain smelly sulfur compounds, while dairy, meat, and fish contain dense proteins which are used as a food source by the anaerobic, sulfur-producing bacteria. Refined and processed sugars also provide a food source for bacteria. Coffee and juices can contribute to this problem because they are acidic and provide these bacteria with an ideal breeding environment.
3. Poor dental hygiene
Dr. Iwuoma said that inadequate oral care causes bacterial buildup on the teeth and gums. Teeth cannot shed their surfaces the way skin can, so microorganisms can easily attach to the teeth and remain there for extended periods.
If they are not continuously removed by adequate brushing, these bacteria develop into something called biofilm, commonly known as dental plaque. When plaque is allowed to accumulate near the gumline, it will harden and begin destroying teeth and gum tissues due to intense bacterial activity. This leads to gum disease such as gingivitis and periodontitis, which enable proteins from bleeding gums and diseased oral tissue to fuel odor-causing bacteria. Tooth decay and poorly fitting or dirty dentures can also contribute to this problem.
4. Illness and disease
According to Dr. Iwuoma, halitosis cases are caused by certain illnesses. Individuals who suffer from diabetes, lung disease, kidney disease, cancer, liver disease, respiratory tract infections, or metabolic disorders often experience chronic foul breath due to dry mouth.
He said that: “Sinusitis, pneumonia, bronchitis, postnasal drip, and polyps affect the airways and may also contribute to the problem.”
“Certain drugs such as antidepressants, high blood pressure medications, and antihistamines can factor into dry mouth because they reduce saliva production, added Iwuoma.”
Halitosis is rarely associated with life-threatening diseases, but it is important that you consult your doctor or dentist as soon as you notice consistent white spots on the tonsils and sores in the mouth with or without a fever.
5. Symptoms of mouth odour
Halitosis is a medical condition that lowers self-esteem and affects everyday life and personal relationships. People with chronic or recurring bad breath often lose their self-confidence.
It can be difficult to know if you have this problem, because it is often challenging to pick up on one’s own scent. Furthermore, family members and colleagues may not feel comfortable telling you. One of the best ways to find out if you have foul breath is to lick the inside of your wrist, wait five seconds and then take a whiff.
“Most symptoms of mouth odour depend on the underlying cause. The most common symptoms include a bitter metallic taste, a white coating on the tongue, and thick saliva says Dr. Iwuoma.”
He said: “Many individuals who have foul breath associated with dry mouth can experience difficulty speaking or swallowing, a burning sensation in the mouth, or dry eyes. Fever, sore throat, persistent cough, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck indicate respiratory tract infections, which can also be a contributing factor.”
The best way to truly identify the source of chronic halitosis is to visit a dentist or doctor for a professional diagnosis. When you are ready to tackle this situation, be sure to be open and honest with the healthcare professional performing the examination.
According to Dr. Iwuoma, the Halimeter also known as a portable sulfide gas monitor is the most commonly used clinical diagnostic instrument utilized in this field. It measures the concentration of hydrogen sulfide in parts per billion (ppb) in mouth air.
Getting Proper Treatment
Taking proper care of your teeth and visiting the dentist at least twice a year are the easiest ways to avoid these issues reveals Dr. Iwuoma.
Like the symptoms, treatment depends on the underlying cause. It is important to keep in mind that you cannot eliminate the bacteria from the tongue that cause bad breath.
Consequently, scraping or brushing the tongue is a temporary remedy at best, and is typically frustrating for those who believe tongue scraping or tongue brushing is a permanent solution.
A much simpler and clinically-proven method to treat bad breath is to interrupt the bacteria’s chemical production of odors by introducing oxygenating compounds to your oral environment.
Oxygen is the natural enemy of the bacteria that cause this problem because they are anaerobes and cannot function in the presence of oxygen. In general, a dentist will recommend mouthwashes and toothpastes that contain oxygenating agents such as chlorine dioxide or sodium chlorite to neutralize volatile sulfur compounds and help control odor causing bacteria found in the mouth.
If you are experiencing mouth dryness, your dentist will recommend a saliva substitute to moisten the mouth throughout the day. Some effective, natural ingredients to look for in oral care products are zinc gluconate, aloe vera, green tea, tea tree oil, xylitol and oral probiotics.
Easy ways to prevent mouth odour
According to Dr. Iwuoma, preventing halitosis is always easier than treating it. By developing the right habits, you can effectively help prevent it.
Eat foods rich in fiber. High fiber foods help prevent halitosis. Avoid eating heavily processed foods that contain refined carbohydrates such as cookies, cakes, sweets and ice cream. Use mouthwash. Some mouthwashes or oral rinses are effective at preventing bad breath. However, you should never use alcohol based mouthwashes because the alcohol makes the mouth very dry, which will actually make the problem worse. Drink green and black teas. They contain polyphenols that help eliminate sulfur compounds and reduce oral bacteria. Clean your mouth after eating meat, fish or dairy products. Practicing consistent and thorough oral hygiene is an effective prevention tool.
Drink water. Keep your mouth moist by drinking plenty of water. You should also eliminate dairy products from your diet. Lactose intolerance can be an underlying cause of halitosis.
Use probiotics to balance the oral cavity and prevent an overgrowth of the odor-causing bacteria involved in halitosis.
Use oral care products such as mouthwashes and toothpastes that have been shown to be effective in fighting bad breath.
Observe proper oral care. Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day. Be sure to get a toothbrush with soft bristles so as to not damage tooth enamel or gums and also use fluoride toothpaste.
Brushing and flossing helps to remove any food and plaque which can be used as a fuel source by the anaerobic, sulfur-producing bacteria that are at the root of this problem.
Stimulate your salivary flow. Prevent dry mouth with chewing gum, lozenges, or mints that are sugar free. Look for Xylitol, a non-sucrose sweetener, which is revealed to have anti-cavity properties.
Take a dietary supplement. Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin B are effective at helping your body eliminate excess mucus and toxins naturally.
Brush your teeth occasionally with baking soda. The bacteria that cause bad breath thrive in an acidic oral environment. Brushing your teeth with baking soda helps neutralize excess acids found in the oral cavity.