Prime News Ghana

Causes of bad breath and treatment options

By Jeffrey Owusu-Mensah

If you’re suffering from bad breath and have no idea why, a few experts are willing to share some reasons behind the smell of halitosis, and treatment options for getting rid of that unfavorable aroma.

Dr. Hana Solomon, a pediatrician and author of “Clearing The Air One Nose At a Time: Caring for Your Personal Filter,” provides five top reasons for bad breath:

1) “Poor oral hygiene – cavities, gum disease, excessive bacterial growth.”

2) “Lifestyle choices – smoking or eating certain foods.”

3) “Debris stuck in the tonsillar and adenoid tissues (most common in kids).”

4) “Medical conditions – sinusitis, pneumonia, bronchitis and other issues related to the nose, dehydration, diabetic ketoacidosis, “Dry Mouth,” known as xerostomia, and organ disease.”

5) “Use of certain medications.”

Here are her five suggestions for targeting the cause of halitosis:

1) Brush and floss your teeth three times a day.

2) Drink enough water to stay hydrated (your urine should be light yellow, and you should have to urinate at least four times a day).

3) Use a nasal irrigation system.

4) Do mouth rinses with hypertonic saline washes.

5) Avoid bad habits like smoking.

“When trying to get rid of bad breath, it’s important that we seek the cause and not the cover-up solution,” Solomon said. “Although there are many ways to temporarily mask bad breath, it will never actually go away until we respond to what’s causing it.”

Dr. Justin Philipp, a dentist in Chandler, Arizona said in an email that periodontal disease is actually the main cause of bad breath.

“It is a particularly nasty infection of the gums and jaw bone that support your teeth,” he said.

“If left untreated, it will not only cause you to lose all of your teeth, but it has been linked to a host of

systemic diseases: diabetes, pre-term birth, stroke, heart disease, even breast cancer.” Dry mouth can also cause issues with bad breath, and many prescription drugs actually cause dry mouth as an unwanted side effect. “Dry mouth causes bad breath by reducing saliva which washes away food and bacteria from your teeth and gums,” Philipp said.

Some foods and drinks that can cause bad breath include garlic, cumin, high-sugar foods (especially if they happen to be sticky), energy drinks and coffee. “The bacteria that cause the foul odors in your mouth love sugar, so the more sugar they get, especially over a longer period of time, means they can produce lots of odor-causing by-products,” Philipp added.

Masking agents such as gum and mints should be sugar-free, otherwise they can make bad breath worse after the sweet smell runs out, he said. Also, make sure to get only alcohol-free mouth wash, since mouth wash containing alcohol can dry out your mouth and prevent saliva from washing away food and bacteria, Philipp said.

If possible, make sure to brush your teeth after eating, he added. If you can’t, then at least rinse your mouth with water. Dr. David G. Genet, a periodontist in Aventura, Florida said in an email that bad breath either comes from the oral cavity or the gastrointestinal system.

Some additional causes of bad breath in the mouth include dental cavities, poorly-fitting dentures, and bacterial overgrowth on the tongue and mucous membranes, Genet said. Onions can also lead to bad breath. The scent will only leave once the onion is completely digested, he said. Genet suggested scraping the tongue and brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, as well as flossing.