I found it embarrassing to be unable to open my mouth to speak or laugh or even cough because of the way my mouth “stinks”. I hated it even more when others couldn’t talk to me because they were afraid I’d kill them with the ooze emanating from the recesses of my mouth. At first, I didn’t even realize I was the problem, until I woke up one morning and discovered that I’d drooled on my pillow and it stank. I couldn’t bear it at all. That was NOT just morning breath- that was some seriously bad mouth odor that I could almost taste. I later found out it was called halitosis.
Halitosis- a condition that Therabreath.com states affects approximately 30% of people around the world. Halitosis is also known as stomatodysodia, fetor oris, and ozostomia. Pretty complicated and hard to pronounce right? Yep. I agree. As weird as the names given to bad breath are, halitosis comes from nowhere but the mouth, the throat, and tonsils. Everyone has had halitosis at one point or the other but Therabreath.com warns that bad breath may be chronic when it does not improve after brushing, flossing, and rinsing the mouth with mouthwash (alcohol- free).
So, What Causes Halitosis?
Halitosis is usually caused by a group of sulfur- producing bacteria that live without oxygen. These bacteria breed beneath the surface of the tongue, in the throat and tonsil area because they are essential in the digestion of proteins into amino acids. However, as these bacteria devour the proteins in the mouth, sulfur compounds are released from the back of the tongue and throat. The release of these sulfur compounds means that hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan, and other volatile sulfur compounds (which are highly bad tasting and smelly) are released. So, when these anaerobic bacteria keep enjoying and feasting on the proteins in the mouth, they excrete these volatile sulfur compounds that make your breath become worse, worse, and worse.
How Do I Deal With Bad Breath?
An article on WebMD gives really effective tips on how to deal with halitosis. Before you read on, you must understand that it’s really easy to keep one’s mouth odor- free and have healthy teeth and gums. Recommended by WebMD, here are 9 steps to take when dealing with halitosis;
- Brush and floss more often.
There’s this stuff we’ve all seen at one point or the other in the mouth- PLAQUE. Plaque is that sticky buildup on your teeth. It usually looks yellowish. Plaque collects bacteria that cause bad breath. When food is trapped in your teeth, it also causes bad breath. So, you have to brush your teeth at least two times each day, and floss properly at least once. But, don’t brush your teeth too hard because if you do, you wear them down and they can decay.
- Rinse your mouth out.
Apart from brushing and flossing, a mouthwash adds extra protection by getting rid of bacteria. A fresh minty taste can make you feel good. But be sure the mouthwash you choose kills the germs that cause bad breath. Don’t just cover up the smell. Rinse daily with a good mouthwash and stop bad breath at its source.
You can also help your breath if you swish your mouth with plain water after you eat. It can get rid of food particles that get stuck in your teeth.
- Scrape your tongue.
If your brush is too big to comfortably reach the back of your tongue, try a scraper. “They’re designed specifically to apply even pressure across the surface of the tongue area. This removes bacteria, food debris, and dead cells that brushing alone can’t take care of,” says hygienist Pamela L. Quinones, past president of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association.
- Avoid foods that sour your breath.
Onions and garlic are big offenders. But brushing after you eat them doesn’t help.
The substances that cause their bad smells make their way into your bloodstream and travel to your lungs, where you breathe them out, says dentist Richard Price, DMD, a spokesperson for the American Dental Association.
The best way to stop the problem? Don’t eat them, or at least avoid them before you go to work or see friends.
- Kick the tobacco habit.
Over-the-counter nicotine patches can help tame the urge. If you need a little help, make an appointment with your doctor to talk about quit-smoking programs or prescription medications that can help you give up tobacco for good.
- Skip after-dinner mints and chew gum instead.
The bacteria in your mouth love sugar. They use it to make acid. This wears down your teeth and causes bad breath. Chew sugarless gum instead.
“Gum stimulates saliva, which is the mouth’s natural defense mechanism against plaque acids, which cause tooth decay and bad breath,” Quinones says.
- Keep your gums healthy.
Gum disease causes bad breath. Bacteria gather in pockets at the base of teeth, which creates an odor.
If you have gum disease, your dentist may suggest you see a periodontist, who specializes in treating it.
- Moisten your mouth.
You can get tooth decay and bad breath if you don’t make enough saliva. If your mouth is dry, drink plenty of water during the day.
Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugar-free hard candy. Also try a humidifier at night to moisten the air in your house.
- See your doctor.
If your bad breath continues despite your best efforts, make an appointment with your doctor. He’ll check to see if your problems are related to a medical condition.