Bad breath can spoil life

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Doctors Corner

BAD breath can stop you from enjoying life.

Halitosis is the medical term used to describe noticeably unpleasant odours exhaled in breathing — whether the smell is from an oral source or not.

Imagine any part of life that doesn’t involve coming into contact with other people — your work, your family or even ordering something at a fast-food restaurant.

Your entire life can be affected by bad breath and stop you from enjoying life.

Have you experienced any of the following?

l You frequently have a bad taste in your mouth.

l Your breath interferes with your social or professional success.

l Somebody comments on your bad breath, or offers you mints or chewing gum.

l You feel embarrassed by your breath.

l You find yourself using either breath mints, mouthwashes, chewing gum, or internal breath fresheners.

l People step back from you when you are talking to them, or they avoid direct contact with you.

l You experience a dry mouth or thick saliva on a regular basis and can’t seem to improve the condition.

If you answered yes to any of the above, you likely have a breath problem. The good news is that it can be cured.

What causes halitosis?

Lots of people have bad breath when they wake up in the morning. That’s because saliva which usually keeps your mouth clean dries up while you are asleep.

You might produce less saliva than usual if you:

l are taking some medicines, such as antihistamines;

l have problems with the glands in your mouth that make saliva;

l don’t drink enough water;

l don’t eat regularly enough; and

l breathe through your mouth too much.

“Morning breath” is probably worse in people who tend to breathe through their mouths rather than their noses, but the problem is easily put right as soon as you have something to eat because it will stimulate saliva.

You can also have temporary bad breath after:

l eating spicy or strong-smelling foods, like garlic, raw onions or curry;

l smoking; and

l drinking alcohol.

Most people put up with bad breath for a little while if they enjoy these things. But steering clear of alcohol, cigarettes or spicy food can help you avoid bad breath.

Long-lasting bad breath

Bad breath that lasts through the day is usually caused by a problem in your mouth. For nine in 10 people, bad breath is caused by either gum disease or bacteria that grow on your tongue.

Bad breath caused by bacteria

Bacteria can grow on the coating on the back part of your tongue. As they grow, bacteria give off gasses. These gasses can make your breath smell bad.

Bad breath caused by gum disease

The most common problem that causes bad breath is gum disease. You get gum disease because of plaque.

Plaque is a coating on your teeth. It’s mainly made up of bacteria. These bacteria can sometimes infect your gums and make them inflamed.

There are two main stages of gum disease.

l Gingivitis: this is when your gums become red and swollen. They may bleed easily when you brush your teeth. You can get rid of gingivitis by brushing your teeth at least twice a day. Flossing can also help, by getting rid of plaque from between your teeth. Or you can get your teeth thoroughly cleaned by a dentist or dental hygienist.

l Periodontitis: this is a later stage of gum disease. Your gums start to pull away from your teeth and form pockets that are infected. If you don’t get treatment, the bones, gums and other tissue that support the teeth can be destroyed. If this happens, teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.

Better be careful.

If you have bad breath it might stop your entire life, so get help as soon as possible.

 

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