Halitosis, sometimes referred to as chronic bad breath, is a condition that good brushing, mouthwash or mints cannot solve. Bad breath can be an outcome of poor dental health habits or a sign of other health problems. It may be worsened by unhealthy lifestyle habits and the types of foods you eat, but steps can be taken to treat and prevent the condition with the doctor’s or dentist’s assistance.
Types of Halitosis
Halitosis can be physiological or pathological. Pathological halitosis is then separated into oral and extra-oral. This classification has been described as inflexible because multiple diagnoses for a patient are not enabled. Also, ‘extra-oral, pathologic halitosis’ is a broad category which does not help the receiving clinician or aid referral choice. Based on these, halitosis was reclassified into types 1-5.
Each Type 1-5 is superimposed on physiologic odour (Type 0). At any given time, pathologic halitosis is the sum of all these types of sources, as well as their respective underlying physiologic contributions.
Type 1: oral halitosis
Oral halitosis is majorly caused by the accumulation of food debris and dental plaque on the teeth and tongue, which is a result of poor oral hygiene, periodontal inflammation, and resultant gingival.
Type 2: airway halitosis
Type 2 halitosis originates from the respiratory tract itself (pneumonia, rhinosinusitis, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, bronchitis), and anywhere from the nose to alveoli. Odorous gases produced by various respiratory pathoses are held in the exhaled breath and expressed via the nose or mouth.
Type 3: gastroesophageal halitosis
Type 3 halitosis is leakage of odourant volatiles from the stomach via the oesophagus to the mouth and nose.
Type 4: blood-borne halitosis
Type 4 (blood-borne) halitosis is where volatile chemicals in the systemic circulation can transfer to exhaled breath during alveolar gas exchange and cause halitosis.
Type 5: subjective halitosis
Subjective halitosis is a bad breath complaint without objective confirmation of halitosis by others or halimeter readings. This type can be misdiagnosed if there are measurement errors or transient symptoms.
Causes of Halitosis
One of the major causes is diet. Other causes are; foods of certain types, poor oral healthcare, improper cleaning of dentures, periodontal disease, odour-causing bacteria on the tongue, dry mouth (xerostomia), and use of tobacco.
- Foods of certain types: Oral health, including your breath are affected by what you eat. Any food, or items such as garlic and onions when taken are absorbed into the bloodstream. Not until the food gets out of the body, it can potentially affect your breath.
- Poor oral healthcare: Irregular routine dental exams, and improper brushing and flossing, can allow food to be entrapped in the mouth. It then opens a breeding ground for different bacteria which then causes a taste and an unpleasant odour in the mouth as a result of gums, teeth, and tongue rot.
- Odour-causing bacteria on the tongue: Some bacteria on the back of the tongue can act together with amino acids in foods and produce offensive malodorous sulphur compounds.
- Periodontal disease: periodontal disease is also known as gum disease and one of the major symptoms of this disease is an unpleasant taste in the mouth, and bad-smelling breath. This condition needs prompt care by an oral health specialist.
- The use of tobacco products: Tobacco products such as cigars, smokeless tobacco, snuff, and cigarettes places the body at risk for vast types of diseases which cause bad breath. Users of tobacco products are at higher risk of periodontal disease, oral cancer, irritated gums, and loss of ability to taste.
Treatment of Halitosis
The treatment of halitosis is dependent mainly on the cause of the condition. Some of the conditions and their treatments include;
- Health condition: The treatment and diagnosis of existing health conditions may get rid of bad breath.
- Dental / bacterial plaque: An antimicrobial mouth rinse may be recommended by your dentist or periodontist.
- Poor oral healthcare: In most cases, your dentist will treat the cause of the problem if the bad breath is due to improper oral healthcare.
- Gum disease: The condition may be treated by your dentist if the cause is underlying gum disease. You may also be referred to an oral specialist or a periodontist.
It is important to see a doctor if you notice any symptoms of chronic bad breath. Book an appointment to speak to a doctor on Doctall immediately.