We have all had an experience where you have been required to speak to someone and you have been unable to concentrate on their response because of their bad breath. The medical term for this condition is known as halitosis and there can be a number of causes for it. However, the end result is always the same and it can be described as the presence of foul smelling gases in exhaled air.
So, what causes this to happen? Well, there are two main types of halitosis and one is easier to explain than the other. The first type is called transient bad breath and this can be caused as a result of a number of seemingly innocuous factors. Having a dry mouth, which can be due to thirst, stress or nerves, can cause bad breath as can certain food stuffs. Strong smelling food such as garlic, onion or other heavily spiced dishes can linger on the breath of the person who consumed it. Smoking is another factor which can cause bad breath and poor oral hygiene is a sure way to halitosis. Saliva is able to kill a certain degree of bacteria in the mouth but it does need to be helped by the use of toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash. The most common form of transient bad breath is commonly known as morning breath. This occurs as a result of your mouth remaining relatively still for a long period of time and so your saliva production is slowed drastically and the bacteria build up overnight. Brushing your teeth in the morning removes the bacteria and so removes the odour.
Chronic bad breath is a more serious condition and it is persistent and difficult to treat. It can affect up to 25% of the population and is caused as a result of certain types of bacteria being produced in excessive amounts. Treatment is not readily available and the clinics which are starting to appear tend to just be outlets for a bad breath product which claims to remedy the problem but which does not treat the cause. As such, these products are only temporary relievers of the problem and not a cure.
A third type of halitosis is recognised but it is a side effect of the more serious condition of chronic liver failure. This type of bad breath is known as fetor hepaticus and is described as smelling as foul as a freshly opened corpse.
For many, bad breath is seen as something comical and people who suffer from it are ridiculed and avoided. However, for the sufferers themselves it can cause real psychological difficulties. Many find it difficult to form relationships and even to speak to people as they are conscious of the odour. They can become very depressed and withdrawn.
For those whose bad breath is of the transient type, many things can be done to rid yourself of it. It is known that the majority of smells come from bacteria produced by food debris which is trapped in the mouth. Following a good oral hygiene routine, including brushing and flossing, will remove these pieces of food and so prevent the bacteria from building up. Using mint flavoured mouth washes, chewing gums and lozenges can mask the problem briefly but do not rid the cause permanently. However, if you are on the go they can be beneficial until you are able to clean your teeth thoroughly.