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Bad Breath Needs Dental Aid

Dr Neeraj Verma

Bad breath coming from the mouth is known as halitosis. Bad odor is estimated to be the third most frequent reason for seeking dental aid, following tooth decay and periodontal disease. Whether the smell is from an oral source or not, halitosis has significant impact, personally and socially.

How does bad breath occur?
After eating any food item, it sticks in between the teeth and on the tongue. If allowed to remain there, it is acted upon by bacteria and other micro organisms present in the mouth. This causes food rot, leading to bad smell.

Some food items themselves cause bad breath because of their inherent odor. Common examples of such food and beverages include onion, garlic, cheese, certain spices, orange juice and soda. Once these are digested and the volatile oils are absorbed into the blood stream, they are carried into the lungs and given off as bad breath.

Bad breath may also be a sign of a health problem. Chronic lung infections, liver or kidney diseases and diabetes are some conditions that may result in bad breath in these chronically ill patients. The other sources of bad breath could be nose, tonsils and stomach.

In most cases (85-90 percent) bad breath originates in the mouth itself. The intensity of bad breath differs during the day due to eating certain foods as mentioned above, or obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption. Because the mouth is exposed to less oxygen and is inactive during the night, the odor is usually worse upon awakening (morning breath).

The most common location for mouth related halitosis is the tongue. Large quantities of naturally occurring bacteria are often found in the posterior dorsum or the back portion of the tongue, where they are relatively undisturbed by normal activity. This part of the tongue is relatively dry and poorly cleansed. The odors are produced mainly due to anaerobic breakdown of proteins into individual amino acids, which further breakdown to produce foul gases.

Gum disease occurring as chronic periodontitis, sublingual bacterial plaque, or pus pockets in the gums are some of the other local causes of bad breath.
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