Bad breath is foul odor emanating from mouth. Bad breath which is also known as halitosis, breath malodor and fetor oris affects a large population which may cause a significant social or psychological handicap to those suffering from it. Intensity of bad breath differs during the day. The cleansing action of saliva is less at night and mouth is inactive and dry during nighttime so the odor is usually worse upon awakening which is called as morning breath.
Tongue coating, poor oral hygiene and dental infections are common causes of halitosis. Eating certain foods such as garlic, onions, fish and smoking, alcohol consumption can also lead to oral malodor. Apart from oral causes, systemic diseases like diabetes mellitus, renal failure, liver failure, respiratory problems, dehydration and fever can also cause bad breath.
Causes of Bad Breath
Common cause of bad breath is food impaction due to spaces between teeth, dental caries and ill fitting restorations and prosthesis. Food accumulates in and around teeth is broken down by microbes which cause oral malodor. Periodontal gum infections, dental abscess, pericoronitis infection further lead to halitosis. Tongue coating harboring various micro-organisms is also a common reason of bad breath. In about 90 percent of cases, halitosis is due to oral factors whereas the remaining 10 percent has systemic causes.
Unknown Causes of Bad Breath
Apart from usual common reasons, there are many other factors which can cause bad breath. Systemic conditions like sinusitis, foreign body hindrance in passage of nose, gastric problems, bronchitis, pneumonia, diabetes mellitus, liver and renal failure, blood dyscrasias, illness and dehydration can also be the reasons for breath malodor. Stress, consumption of more of alcohol, tobacco consumption, prolonged starvation, intake of foods like onions, garlic, fish, meat and certain medicaments can also lead to fetor oris.
In nasal infections like sinusitis, sinus swelling and infection occurs. Nasal discharge may occur on back tongue surface due to infection which causes proliferation of bacteria and bad breath. Other nasal infections which can cause oral malodor are Rhinitis, nasal polyp obstruction and tumors.
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Tonsillitis infection can also cause bad mouth odor. Bacteria lodges in tonsil crypts in this condition and cause halitosis. Diseases of gastro-intestinal tract like hiatus hernia, gastritis, gastro- esophageal reflux disorder, carcinomas also contribute to bad breath.
Activity of digestive enzymes is affected when a person is stressed. In absence of sufficient digestive enzymes, food digestion gets messed up and cause bad breath.
More intake of onions, garlic, cheese and high protein diet like fish and meat can lead to breath malodor. These food stuffs cause foul smell that can affect your social life. Chewing garlic and onions produce gases which cause halitosis.
Prolonged starvation and less fat and carbohydrate intake causes proteins breakdown to peptides and amino acids and finally sulphur compounds which causes halitosis.
Alcohol consumption interferes with digestion of food and can cause fetor oris. Alcohol intake also reduces the saliva flow which has cleansing antibacterial action. Reduced salivary flow also contributes to foul mouth odor.
Some drugs such as anti-histaminic, antibiotics cause Xerostomia or reduce mouth salivary flow and cause bad breath.
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