Halitosis is a term used to describe noticeably unpleasant odors exhaled in breathing. It is also referred to as oral malodor but most people know it as ‘bad breathe’. Even though it’s a comparatively minor health problem, bad breath can be distressing and a bit of social handicap.

  • The most common cause of bad breath is the food we eat. Garlic, onions, some kinds of fish and diets rich in fat and meat can also cause halitosis. When these foods are digested, volatile substances or chemicals are absorbed into your blood stream and are carried to the lungs where they are exhaled in your breath. The breakdown products of proteins in the body used for energy are exhaled through the lungs and therefore missing meals, hunger, fasting, starvation and low- calorie diets can also cause ‘hunger breath’. Halitosis is also caused by:
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Dentures
  • Periodontal/gum disease that cause teeth to become loose thus the creation of pockets in the gums that harbor bacteria leading to foul breath.
  • Mouth infections for example, thrush
  • Chronic lung or sinus infections
  • Systemic diseases such as diabetes, liver disease or kidney disorder
  •  Pregnancy
  • Lack of regular flossing and brushing of teeth.
  • Certain medications especially those that reduce the flow of saliva and dry out the mouth e.g some antidepressants, antipsychotics, antihistamines, decongestants and medications to reduce high blood pressure.

Halitosis can be remedied at home by simply changing your diet. For instance, you can eat foods that do not have strong odors. Eating a healthy natural diet reduces the chances of halitosis from food residue in the mouth and from the processing of hard to digest food.  Another remedy is brushing and flossing teeth thoroughly and using a mouthwash then brushing again. This eliminates many odors. Seeing a dentist also determines whether the cause of the halitosis is from gum disease or cavities.

If bad breath is persistent, and all other medical and dental factors have been ruled out, specialized treatment is required. Several methods are used for diagnosis of bad breath in the laboratory.  For example a halimeter, which is portable sulfide monitor used to test levels of hydrogen sulphide in the mouth air is used to determine the levels of bacteria production in the mouth. A gas chromatography is used to measure the sulphar components of the breath and produces visual results in graph from via computer interface.

. Whenever there is persistent halitosis and it doesn’t respond to home remedies, it is advisable to seek help from a health care professional to rule out any medical or dental issues that may be contributing to the halitosis.


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