Is Halitosis Curable?
'I didn't know that I had bad breath until my ex took courage to tell me. Well, for me, that occurrence turned the tide in my life. As a result, I sought medical attention and today I'm doing fine with no mouth odour, ' Tade narrated.
Experts have identified halitosis to be an oral health condition that is associated with bad breath or an offensive mouth odour.
'Usually, mouth wash and rigorous brushing do not solve the problem. Halitosis is not something to ignore, because it could even be a symptom of more serious medical condition,' a dental health practitioner at the State Hospital, Saki, Dr Ayobami Awoniyi said.
According to him, certain causes have been linked with halitosis. These could be physiological, pathological and psychological.
Physiological causes which he said could be termed 'normal halitosis,' for instance, eating certain foods like onion, garlic, even drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco, will cause bad mouth breath until the items are taken out of the blood stream.
'Also, when one wakes up early in the morning, or there has been no mouth movement for some period of time, the mouth is bound to produce bad breath,' Dr Awoniyi added.
He explained that other causes could be pathological, which could be as a result of some underlying disease conditions like respiratory infections, which include diabetes mellitus, gastro intestinal diseases, liver and kidney diseases, tonsillitis, chronic sinusitis, chronic bronchitis, infections of the nose, wind pipe or lungs and post-nasal drip.
According to him, poor oral hygiene, decayed teeth, periodontal diseases (bleeding gums, gingival gaps), mouth ulcers and soft tissue inflammation in the mouth, malposition of teeth such as overcrowding, inclined and rotated teeth; making it easier for food and other items to hang or accumulate, also contribute to pathological halitosis.
'Dry mouth or xerostomia could also contribute to bad breath by limiting the flow of saliva in the mouth. This is because saliva plays a key role in cleansing and lubricating the mouth. Xerostomia is caused by salivary gland disorders among others.'
Speaking on the symptoms of mouth odour, Dr Awoniyi noted that symptoms could be noticed by the patients themselves or those who are close to them who might have pointed their attention to it in one way or the other.
Nevertheless, the dentist enjoined everyone to cultivate oral hygiene etiquette, saying that non chalant attitude to oral hygiene could pre dispose them to having mouth odour.
Elucidating on the risk factors of halitosis, Dr Awoniyi noted that smoking tobacco and excessive alcohol intake can cause halitosis. 'Also, it is not good to remain speechless for a very long time. Even when it is unavoidable, there are medicated chewing gums that can be chewed or menthol that can be licked to keep the mouth fresh,' he said.
'Not paying good attention to brushing your teeth and tongue- some people do not even wash their tongues- not going for a regular routine oral checkup, not flossing the teeth could increase the chances of halitosis.
'Against these, regular oral routine checkup is advised. People should practise and sustain it. This helps the dentist to sight a potential oral health problem and find solutions to avert it. Flossing is also very crucial in taking care of the teeth. Flossing caters for at least 35 per cent of a tooth surface; so not flossing means some regions in the teeth where a brush bristle cannot get to will not be cleaned, which could be dangerous to the health.'
However, to prevent mouth odour, Dr Awoniyi has advised that people should brush their teeth regularly and that while brushing, they should ensure that the brush bristles reach the corners of the teeth, the tongues and the roof of the mouth.
'These parts should be well cleaned. People should also cultivate the habit of flossing their teeth regularly. Dental floss will remove any hanging food remnants interdentally,' he noted.
Chairman, Nigerian Dental Association of Oyo State branch, and Head of Department, Community Dentistry, U.C.H, Dental Centre, Ibadan. Dr Olusola Ibiyemi, revealed that the prevalence of halitosis is on the rise. According to him, offensive odour could arise from problems within the mouth to the throat or problems affecting the body.
Dr Ibiyemi revealed that dysfunction of the liver and kidney could also increase the risk of halitosis due to non-metabolism of some elements in the body. He noted that diabetic patients are at increase rate of having bad breath because the level of sugar in their bodies is not being metabolised and as a result, the elements accumulate which adversely manifests as unpleasant odour from the mouth.
He said that accumulation of dirts in the mouth with plaques and calculus or debris all around emanating from poor oral hygiene could also cause bad breath.
'The tongue also needs to be properly washed to avoid accumulation of dirt,' he noted.
Dr Ibiyemi revealed that problems with the gastro intestinal tract can also cause bad smell oozing from the mouth like indigestion.
He however called on people with the symptoms of halitosis to visit the right dental clinic for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
'People should make it a norm to brush twice daily with fluoride pastes,' he advised.