Halitosis: Symptoms, Causes, and Home Remedies

Halitosis, also known as bad breath, is an unpleasant odor that arises from the oral cavity. Many people have halitosis and are not aware of it. This problem is common and can lead to unpleasant situations. Poor oral hygiene is the most common cause of halitosis. However, some medical conditions, medications, and certain foods are among the causes. In most cases, proper oral hygiene can often improve bad breath. However, you should visit a dentist to identify the underlying cause and treat it.

Symptoms of Halitosis

The odor of your breath can vary depending on the underlying cause. For example, fruit-like odor occurs in the case of diabetes mellitus, foul odor occurs in the case of poor oral hygiene, and urine odor occurs in the case of abnormal kidney function. If you suspect you have halitosis, ask a family member, close friend, or your dentist.

Causes of Halitosis

Poor oral hygiene is the most common cause of halitosis. Bacteria in the mouth decompose food particles and produce sulfur-containing metabolites, causing a foul odor. Also, inadequate oral hygiene will lead to the formation of dental plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that accumulates on teeth surfaces. Dental plaque can cause dental caries and gum disease. With time, dental plaque can harden into tartar that can’t be removed by a toothbrush, causing persistent halitosis.

Halitosis bacteria prefer to nest in places with little oxygen or can’t be reached by a toothbrush, For example, interdental spaces, periodontal pockets, cavities, under dental prosthesis, and orthodontic appliances. Also, the tongue surface is one of the favorite places of bacteria. Dentists suggest that more than two-thirds of all halitosis cases are due to tongue bacteria. So, you should clean your tongue daily with a tongue scraper or toothbrush.

Other Causes of Halitosis

  • Eating certain foods such as garlic, onion, and spices can cause an unpleasant odor.
  • Drinking coffee and alcohol.
  • Smoking and tobacco chewing.
  • Poorly fitting dentures.
  • Dental diseases such as cavities and gum disease.
  • Dry mouth condition.
  • Some medications may cause halitosis as a side effect such as medications of heart disease and allergies.
  • Infection or inflammation of in the nose, sinuses, and throat can also lead to bad odor.
  • Diets such as intermittent fasting, low-carb, and ketogenic diet can cause bad breath. This is due to elevated ketone levels as a result of the breakdown of fats. The ketone exits from your body in breath and urine.
  • Medical conditions such as:
    • Salivary gland disease.
    • Respiratory Diseases.
    • Gastroesophageal reflux disease.
    • Tumors in the oral cavity and throat.
    • Diabetes mellitus: the breath smells like acetone.
    • Kidney failure: The breath smells like ammonia or urine.
    • Liver failure: the breath has a strong, musty smell.

Treatment of Halitosis

The treatment of halitosis depends on the underlying cause. In most cases, poor oral hygiene is the cause of bad breath. So, improving your oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly for a professional dental cleaning may solve the problem. If breath odor is caused by plaque, cavities, or gum disease, you should visit your dentist to treat the problem. Your dentist may refer you to a specialist if he/she suspects that your halitosis is caused by a medical condition.

Home Remedies for Halitosis

To reduce or prevent halitosis:

  • Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush for 3-5 minutes.
  • Change your toothbrush when becoming frayed or every 3 months.
  • Clean the interdental spaces with an interdental brush or dental floss.
  • Clean your tongue with a tongue scraper or toothbrush.
  • Use a mouthwash with anti-bacterial ingredients such as chlorhexidine for 2 weeks maximum. Dentists don’t recommend the prolonged use of these mouthwashes because they can disturb the balance of oral flora and cause more harm.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth moist.
  • Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate the salivary flow if you have a dry mouth.
  • Clean dental prosthesis and braces at least once a day.
  • Eat a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables and fruits.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Have a professional dental cleaning at least twice a year to remove plaque and tartar.

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