Do I have bad breath?
Most people are unaware of the fact that they have bad breath, or “halitosis” as dental professionals refer to it. Certain foods, health conditions and habits are among the causes of bad breath. In many cases, you can improve bad breath with proper dental hygiene. If simple self-care techniques do not solve the problem, you may want to see your dentist or doctor to rule out a more serious condition that may be causing your bad breath.
Causes of bad breath:
Bad breath can be caused by external and internal factors. External factors can be the types of food that we eat, such as those spicy or odorous in nature. If you think your bad breath is related to the foods you are consuming, consider recording the food you are eating to determine if this is the reason. People who use tobacco and alcohol can also experience bad breath. The tongue provides a place for bacteria to attach and grow. Most odour-causing bacteria produce compounds called volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs), which cause bad breath. The primary VSCs that cause bad breath are hydrogen sulphide and methyl mercaptan. Most of these odour-causing bacteria reside in the posterior area of the tongue.
Other causes of bad breath can include the following:
· Dental issues – Poor oral hygiene, gingivitis and periodontal disease
· Dentures – Plaque and food can develop on dentures
· Dry mouth – Lack of saliva flow
· Mouth, nose and throat issues – Sinus or throat infections and cryptic tonsillitis
· Patients who are dieting on a regular basis.
Please see your dental professional for a dental appointment to determine why you are experiencing bad breath and continue to properly clean your mouth with antibacterial fluoride toothpaste, floss daily and clean your tongue with a tongue brush or scraper.
What is Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth means you do not have enough saliva to keep your mouth moist. Everyone has a dry mouth once in a while, especially if you are nervous, upset or under stress. But if you have a dry mouth all or most of the time, it can be uncomfortable and can lead to more serious health problems or indicate that a more serious medical condition may exist. This is because saliva does more than just keep the mouth wet. Saliva helps digest food, protects teeth from decay, prevents infection by controlling bacteria in the mouth, and makes it possible for you to chew and swallow.
There are several reasons that the glands that produce saliva, called the salivary glands, might not function properly. These include:
• Side effects of some medications – Over 400 medicines can cause dry mouth, including antihistamines, decongestants, pain killers, diuretics and medicines for high blood pressure and depression.
• Disease – Diseases that affect the salivary glands, such as diabetes, Hodgkin's, Parkinson's disease, HIV/AIDS and Sjogren's syndrome, may lead to dry mouth.
• Radiation therapy – The salivary glands can be damaged if your head or neck are exposed to radiation during cancer treatment. The loss of saliva can be total or partial, permanent or temporary.
• Chemotherapy – Drugs used to treat cancer can make saliva thicker, or "ropey," causing your mouth to feel dry.
• Menopause – Changing hormone levels affect the salivary glands, often leaving menopausal and post-menopausal women with a persistent feeling of dry mouth.
• Smoking – Many pipe, cigar and heavy cigarette smokers experience dry mouth.
How do I know if I have dry mouth?
Everyone's mouth feels dry from time to time. It is when this feeling does not go away that you may have a problem with saliva production. Symptoms of dry mouth include:
• A sticky, dry feeling in your mouth
• Trouble swallowing
• A burning sensation on your tongue
• A dry feeling in your throat
• Cracked lips
• Reduced ability to taste things or a metallic taste in your mouth
• Mouth sores
• Frequent bad breath
• Difficulty chewing/speaking.
How is dry mouth treated?
The only permanent way to cure dry mouth is to treat its cause. If your dry mouth is the result of medication, your doctor might change your prescription or your dosage. If your salivary glands are not working properly but still produce some saliva, your doctor might give you a medicine that helps the glands work better. If the cause of your dry mouth cannot be eliminated, or until it can be, you can restore moisture to your mouth a number of different ways. Your dentist may recommend mouth moisturisers, such as a saliva substitute. Rinsing with mouthwashes specially formulated to help dry mouth may also bring relief. You can also:
• Sip water or sugarless drinks often.
• Avoid drinks with caffeine such as coffee, tea and some sodas, which can cause the mouth to dry out.
• Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless boiled sweets to stimulate saliva flow if some salivary gland function exists.
• Do not use tobacco or alcohol, which dry out the mouth.
• Be aware that spicy or salty foods can cause pain in a dry mouth.
• Use a humidifier at night.