Bad Breath

Bad breath, or halitosis, is a common problem but the reluctance to say anything about it is universal.

It is different when somebody comes in without having a shower. You would say : "Go have a shower, you smell". But no one is prepared to come out and talk about bad breath. The reluctance may be due to the link between bad breath and poor oral hygiene.

Once you tell someone that "you don't clean or you don't floss correctly", this very defensive mechanism comes forward and they will say "no, I clean, I floss and I'm doing the right thing". The last thing people want is to appear unhygienic.

But comments about bad breath, although embarrassing at times, can serve as a wake-up call for many. Because once they realise their problem, they can seek help from professionals.

Therefore, if you are one of the 25% estimated to have chronic bad breath, knowing that you have a problem is the first step you can take to overcome it.

Finding The Cause of Bad Breath

Bad breath is not untreatable but there is a general lack of education about it. In fact, bad breath can also be caused by factors that have little to do with how you clean your mouth.

Anything that promotes bacterial growth and the accumulation of protein in the mouth can cause bad breath. 'Bad breath' bacteria in the mouth break down proteins and release volatile sulphur compounds – gases like methyl mercaptan, hydrogen sulphide and dimethyl sulphide – that smell like faeces, rotten eggs and gasoline, respectively.

Medical conditions like chronic nasal problems, gum diseases, and dry mouth can cause bad breath.

So can other lifestyle habits like drinking alcohol, eating dairy products, smoking, taking coffee or consuming certain medications that affect the production of saliva.

Treatment

With a diagnostic machine that detects the three gases that contribute to bad breath, the cause of bad breath can be identified by evaluating the levels of those gases.

In the past, patients go through the same treatment, but now we are able to focus on treating the problems that cause their bad breath.

In most chronic cases of bad breath, toothpaste and mouthwash only offer temporary relief. Ongoing treatment and counselling is needed.

You need to go to someone that could counsel you and offer a full treatment and service – from start to finish – mainly because bad breath is often a lifestyle problem. You can not say "take these, everything will be fine tomorrow and you can get back to your normal life".

For those with bad breath, the following regime is suggested :

* First, use a mouthwash (preferably alkaline and non-alcohol) to remove the biofilm (the coating in your mouth that contains bacteria and protein).

* Then, manually clean your teeth, tongue and gums with toothbrush, toothpaste and a tongue cleaner.

* After the biofilm is reduced, it is also suggested the use of probiotics, good bacteria that competes with 'bad breath' bacteria in the mouth to keep them from growing into colonies that could cause bad breath.

At night, repeat the same steps without the mouthwash. All this takes only about 8 to 10 minutes.

Preventing Bad Breath

+ Drink some water after a meal to neutralise the acids that come with the food. Harmful bacteria tend to thrive in an acidic environment.

+ Quit smoking. Smoking gives you the smoker's breath. It also promotes the growth of bad breath bacteria because it deprives the mouth of oxygen.

+ Be careful when you use medicated mouthwash or mouthwash that contains alcohol. Long-term use of alcohol-based mouthwash may lead to dry mouth and cause or aggravate bad breath. Healthy people should not be taking medicated mouthwashes just for hygiene purposes as it will change the healthy bacterial population in their mouths, which may cause problems over time.

Those who have yet to experience problems with bad breath can also follow the same regime as suggested. However, without motivation, it is tough to do it consistently.

It is actually beneficial to do preventative treatment before you get bad breath, but when you do it preventatively, it is very hard to motivate people.

Therefore, unfortunately a lot of people wait until they have problems before they start to do the cleaning regime.



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