Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Bad breath is a common problem that affects a substantial number of people in all countries. It affects your rapport with colleagues or classmates. It can be a source of embarrassment. Bad breath may also be a sign of heath problem.
Normal Mouth Anatomy:
The structures in the mouth that can harbor bad breath are:
The teeth, the gums, and the tongue
Normally a tooth has 2 main parts:
Crown and Root
Crown is that part of teeth which is seen in the mouth.
Root is that part of tooth which is inside the jaw bone.
Crown is made up of: Enamel, Dentin and Pulp
Enamel: it is white hard covering over the crown. It does not have blood supply.
Dentin: It is below the enamel.
Pulp: The nerves and blood vessels present in the tooth are called pulp.
Gum or Gingiva:
Also, known as periodontium is composed of bone and pink gummy tissue. It is a part of soft tissue lining of the mouth. They surround the teeth and provide seal around them. Healthy gingiva is usually coral pink in color. Any change in color, increased redness, swelling and increased tendency to bleed suggest an inflammation, possibly due to accumulation of bacterial plaque. This further leads to bad breath.
It is a muscular organ. It is covered with soft tissue called mucosa. The top surface of the tongue is the dorsal surface. The under surface of the tongue is the ventral surface. There are tiny hairs like projections on the surface of tongue, these are called papillae. There are 3 types of papillae but the one that is concerned here is filliform papillae. These papillae grow to a certain length and then break off. This shedding happens on the anterior part of tongue because of constant motion and frequent contact with the teeth.
This shedding is slower on the back part of tongue, so the papillae tend to grow longer. This is an ideal place for bacterial growth. This is what is called as coating of tongue.
What is Halitosis or bad breath?
Halitosis is an oral health condition characterized by unpleasant odor coming from mouth that can be caused by dental diseases or respiratory or gastric disorders.
It is also called as bad breath.
Bad breath comes from something in the mouth. Food particles stick between the teeth, gums and on the tongue, if not brushed properly this food can rot. This causes bad smell in the mouth. It also helps the bacteria grow. Bad breath can also be a sign of health problem.
Symptoms of bad breath:
- Most obvious symptom is bad breath smell.
- Dry mouth and teeth.
- White coating on the tongue
- Bitter metallic taste
- Morning bad breath
- Carious teeth
- Tooth infection
- Bad taste in the mouth
Causes of bad breath:
- Accumulation of food debris.
- By bacterial infections – Buildup of bacteria within the mouth.
- Poor Oral Hygiene
- Dental diseases – caries, gum diseases, mouth sores.
- Medical diseases- sinusitis, lung infection, tonsils, liver or kidney diseases and diabetes.
- Certain medications.
- Certain foods and drinks
- Hormonal factors- Menstruation and pregnancy.
- Vitamin deficiencies.
Medical History: Medical history for conditions that can cause bad breath and for medicines that can cause dry mouth and history of diet and personal habits.
Dental Examination: Examination of teeth, gums, mouth and salivary glands. Blood tests, Endoscopy, X -ray of the abdomen and X-ray of the chest are done to rule out any systemic diseases.
Beta–galactosidase test- Salivary level of this enzyme is correlated with bad breath.
BANA –test: It is done to indicate the presence of certain halitosis related bacteria.
Halimeter: This is a monitor used to test for levels of Sulphur emissions in the mouth air.
Odor rating: Here level of odor is assessed and rating is given.
Identifying the cause is the first step in treating halitosis. Maintaining a good oral hygiene and brushing and flossing the teeth regularly. Tongue cleaning with toothbrush. Use of mouth washes, rinse your mouth after every meal, Quit Smoking and Tobacco chewing.
Dental diseases such as caries and gum diseases should be treated.
Medical diseases: Bad breath resulting from systemic illness may be a long-term problem. It must be treated with proper medical care.
- Avoid foods and beverages with strong odors.
- Avoid sugary foods that help to feed the bacteria in the mouth.
- Rinse your mouth after eating.
- Maintain a good oral hygiene.
- A regular visit to your dentist