Bad breath is a condition characterized by an unpleasant smell of mouth breath. This condition can also be accompanied by dry mouth, bad taste in the mouth, and white color on the tongue.
Bad breath or halitosis is a condition that can be experienced by anyone. This condition can be caused by the type of food consumed, oral hygiene that is not maintained, illness, or lifestyle that is not good.
Some people use gum and mouthwash products to get rid of bad breath. However, the effect of using these products is generally only temporary. So that it can disappear completely, sufferers are advised to see a doctor so that the cause of bad breath can be overcome.
Causes of bad breath ( Halitosis )
The causes of bad breath vary widely, including:
Foods with strong odors can cause bad breath. These types of food include shallots, garlic, cheese, fish, spicy foods, and coffee.
These foods generally contain essential oils which can enter the bloodstream and be carried to the lungs. After that, essential oils can evaporate in the lungs and out with exhalation.
2. Poor oral hygiene
Infrequent brushing of teeth, especially in people who use dentures or braces, can cause food residue in the mouth to rot or form dental plaque so that the breath becomes smelly. In addition, a tongue that is not cleaned can also store bacteria that can cause bad breath.
Low-carbohydrate diets such as the DEBM diet or the ketogenic diet can cause bad breath. When there is a shortage of carbohydrates as an energy source, the body will burn fat for energy. This process can produce a sour breath from the mouth.
4. Infection in the mouth
Conditions such as cavities, gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), periodontitis , and canker sores, can cause bad breath. In addition, surgical wounds in the mouth and dentures that are loose or not properly attached can also cause infections that cause bad breath.
5. Dry mouth
One of the functions of saliva is to clean the mouth from bacteria and food debris. In dry mouth conditions, saliva production is reduced so that bacteria and food scraps accumulate more easily and cause bad breath.
Dry mouth can be caused by disorders of the salivary glands, taking diuretic drugs , or sleeping with the mouth open.
6. Smoking and consuming alcoholic beverages
Smoking and consuming alcoholic beverages can make your mouth drier, making it easier to smell. In addition, tobacco in cigarettes also leaves substances that will settle in the mouth so that the mouth smells bad.
7. Health condition
The patient's current health problems can also cause bad breath or halitosis. These conditions include:
- Chronic sinusitis
- Sore throat (pharyngitis)
- Lactose intolerance
- Heart trouble
- Kidney disorders
- GERD or acid reflux disease
Antihistamines , antidepressants, and diuretics are examples of drugs that have the side effect of dry mouth, which can cause bad breath. In addition, the metabolism of certain drugs can also produce chemicals that trigger bad breath.
Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is one of the causes of bad breath in pregnant women. Bad breath can also occur due to dehydration, hormonal changes, and a high and varied desire to eat during pregnancy.
Symptoms of bad breath ( halitosis )
Symptoms of bad breath is an unpleasant smell that comes out of the mouth. The smell can vary, depending on the cause. Bad breath can also be accompanied by other complaints, such as:
- Discomfort, sour, or bitter taste in the mouth
- Dry mouth
- The tongue is white, especially on the back of the tongue
- Burning taste on the tongue
- Mucus or fluid that flows from the nose to the throat
When to see a doctor
Check with your dentist if you often experience bad breath despite doing self-care at home, such as brushing your teeth and tongue after eating, flossing your teeth, and drinking more water.
Immediately see a doctor if you experience complaints such as:
- Long lasting dry mouth
- Pain or difficulty when chewing or swallowing
- Mouth sores
- Fever or tired quickly
- White patches on the tonsils
Bad breath (halitosis) diagnosis
The dentist will conduct questions and answers regarding the patient's habit of cleaning the teeth and mouth, as well as the food and medicines consumed. The doctor will also ask whether the patient has a habit of snoring while sleeping or suffers from a disease, such as allergies or other chronic diseases.
After that, the doctor will examine the patient's mouth, tongue and nose to detect the cause of bad breath. The doctor will also check the characteristics of the patient's mouth odor.
If necessary, the doctor will wipe the back of the tongue with a special stick to assess bad breath.
If the dentist cannot identify the cause of bad breath or if bad breath is suspected to be caused by another condition, the patient will be referred to a general practitioner for further examination.
Bad Breath (Halitosis) Treatment
Treatment of bad breath depends on the cause. The following are actions that are commonly performed by doctors to treat bad breath:
Maintain oral hygiene
Maintained oral hygiene will prevent bacteria from accumulating and causing odor. Here are simple ways you can do to maintain oral hygiene:
- Brushing your teeth and cleaning your tongue to get rid of bacteria on the surface
- Using dental floss to clean food residue between the teeth
- Using mouthwash to kill excess bacteria in the mouth and disguise bad breath
- Gargle with salt water, such as bamboo salt
- Using toothpaste and mouthwash prescribed by a doctor to treat bad breath due to plaque or tartar buildup
Simple changes in daily habits can sometimes overcome bad breath, especially when accompanied by good oral hygiene. The following are some of the changes that can be made:
- Stop smoking habit
- Drink at least 2 liters of water per day
- Limit consumption of alcoholic and caffeinated drinks
- Avoid consuming spicy food in excess
- Avoiding extreme diets, such as consuming very low amounts of carbohydrates or consuming very high protein
Treating oral diseases that cause bad breath
If bad breath is caused by problems with the teeth or gums, treatment at the dentist needs to be done. Things that can be done to overcome problems in the mouth include:
- Filling or extraction of damaged teeth
- Cleaning plaque or tartar that causes gum disease
- Administration of antibiotics to treat infection
Treat other diseases that cause bad breath
Handling bad breath caused by other diseases according to the underlying conditions, including:
- Use saline nasal spray regularly to treat chronic sinusitis
- Taking antibiotics, such as metronidazole, to kill the bacteria that cause chronic sinusitis
- Taking antacids, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), or H2 antagonists to treat GERD
Replacing drugs that cause bad breath
Bad breath caused by side effects of long-term drug consumption can be overcome by changing the drugs consumed. However, drug replacement must be done according to the doctor's advice.
In addition to the steps above, there are several other ways you can do to disguise bad breath, such as chewing sugarless gum or chewing mint leaves. In patients with dry mouth conditions, the use of artificial saliva prescribed by a doctor can also reduce bad breath.
Complications of Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Bad breath is generally not a life-threatening condition. However, people with bad breath are usually not aware of this condition before being told by others. This can make people with bad breath feel embarrassed and insecure.
Prevention of Bad Breath (Halitosis)
The following are some ways that can be used to prevent bad breath:
- Avoid foods with strong odors.
- Watch your diet by eating more fruits and vegetables.
- Clean your mouth regularly by brushing your teeth for 2 minutes at least 2 times a day using toothpaste that contains fluoride .
- Clean your tongue when brushing your teeth and use dental floss to clean between your teeth.
- Replace the toothbrush every 3-4 months or when the toothbrush is visibly damaged.
- Clean braces and dentures properly and carry out routine controls according to doctor's recommendations.
- Do not smoke and limit the consumption of alcoholic beverages and alcohol
- Consumption of low-sugar candy or gum to prevent mouth
- Use mouth cleaning products, such as mouthwash.
- Have regular check-ups with the dentist every 6 months.