Dental & Oral Health

Halitosis or Bad Breath: Causes and Management

Written by Dr. Soheel Hussain Zargar and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

 
Image: Halitosis or Bad Breath: Causes and Management

Each one of us have come across a condition which is designated in lay man's language as bad breath and medically as halitosis.

What Is Halitosis?

It simply refers to a feeling of having a bad breath with which no one feels comfortable. This condition affects around 20 to 25 % of the population in general. Although it is not an emergency condition, due to the clinical, psychological and social implications it has on the affected individual, it needs to be addressed immediately.

What Causes Halitosis?

There are several causes associated with it which are within the control of an individual as well as due to clinical disorders within the oral cavity and the general body.

Causes Within the Control of an Individual:

  • Use of tobacco and tobacco-based products, smoking, snuff containing areca nut and lime.
  • Missing the habit of mouth rinsing after taking foods and beverages.
  • Improper brushing of teeth, especially after a carbohydrate-rich diet.
  • Alcohol intake.
  • Not cleaning oral prosthesis like dentures.

Causes Due to Dental Problems:

  • Diseased teeth around which food collects or food impaction.
  • Dryness of mouth due to old age or use of drugs for asthma.
  • An inadequate frequency of professional checkup and scaling procedures which is mandatory every six months.

Causes Due to Systemic Diseases:

  • Postnasal drip.
  • Acid reflux disease.
  • Accumulation of acetone bodies in the blood in diabetes leading to acetone breath.
  • Gastrointestinal obstruction and constipation which can cause fecal breath.
  • Liver failure or jaundice.
  • Chronic renal failure leading to uraemic stomatitis as well.

Other Causes:

Use of foods containing sulfur like onion and garlic.

How Does It Happen?

Halitosis happens due to the release of chemicals from the bacterial decomposition of foods, particularly fats and carbohydrates. Sulfur is one of the important ingredients of such processes.

Such chemicals are also generated due to impairment of bodily functions due to diabetes mellitus, chronic renal failure, and jaundice.

How to Manage It?

Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth regularly and rinsing after taking meals, beverages and any kind of drugs or syrups.

Get a prophylactic scaling done by a dentist every six months.

It is necessary to get special care and follow up in the case of medically compromised patients like diabetes, kidney failure, etc.

Ensure you clean your dentures and other removable oral prostheses daily.

Restore oral health by treating problems like xerostomia and filling of carious teeth.

Consult a general physician for diseases of the stomach, intestines, kidneys, etc.

Medications for Symptomatic Relief Are:

Mouthwash containing Chlorhexidine.

Gum paint to treat gingival diseases.

Proton-pump inhibitors (PPI) like Pantoprazole to treat acid reflux.

Conclusion

Prevention is better than cure as most of the causes lie within one's own hands.

Last reviewed at: 03.Nov.2018

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