Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Focus on… Bad breath

The Chemist + Druggists reports:

Poor oral hygiene is the most common cause of bad breath, also known as halitosis. The problem affects most people at some time in their lives (and many people’s breath smells unpleasant when they wake up usually because their mouth has become dry while they sleep). However, for about half the population the problem persists. (1)

The major cause of bad breath is thought to be halitosis-causing bacteria and food residues at the back and in the furrows of the tongue which are broken down into volatile sulphur compounds (VSC). (2)

Eating strongly flavoured food can also result in bad breath. Sometimes the problem can be related to an illness such as respiratory infections, diabetes, liver or kidney problems or gastritis and food reflux. (1)

Smoking and some medicines (eg nitrates, phenothiazines and some chemotherapy drugs) may be responsible for a person’s bad breath.

Because of the stigma attached to bad breath it’s difficult to ask someone else whether your breath smells. One way to test it yourself is to lick your wrist and see if there is a smell when it dries; if there is it’s a good indication of smelly breath. (1)


Combating bad breath involves a good oral hygiene regime – regularly brushing teeth and gums; flossing between teeth, and keeping the tongue clean by brushing or scraping it. (1)

Mouthwash used just before going to bed can be helpful. The ease of use of mouthwashes has contributed to the proliferation in the variety available. Generally they work by providing a temporary competing smell, by killing bacteria in the mouth or acting on the chemical breakdown products produced by the bacteria. (2)

Chewing sugar-free gum which helps stimulate the flow of saliva and may help prevent the mouth from drying out. (1)

It’s also important to visit the dentist once a year when there is a chance for a thorough ‘deep clean’ of the teeth and to make sure the correct technique is being used to clean the teeth. (1)


 2. Fedorowicz Z, et al. Mouthrinses for the treatment of halitosis. CochraneDatabase of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD006701. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006701.

No comments:

Post a Comment