If people believe that they have bad breath it can be a source of worry and embarrassment. It may mean that they feel uncomfortable around other people, and it can severely impact their self confidence in social situations. Humans do tend to react negatively to bad breath and it does act as a barrier to communication – not that this is the fault of the person who is experiencing bad breath. Luckily there are is almost always a solution to this problem, and the individual will be able to regain their confidence to enjoy social occasions. In some instances people will overestimate their problems as the odor from their breath will be nowhere near as bad as they think. Sometimes bad breath can be a sign that the individual has an underlying medical condition – for example, it is often associated with alcoholism or gum disease.
Halitosis is the medical term for bad breath. It refers to a situation where there are noticeable unpleasant odors associated with the breath. In some instances these odors will be persistent but for other people they come and go. Almost every human will suffer from bad breath at one time or another but for some people the extent of the problem can lead to misery and worry. In many instances the individual will realize they have the condition after being informed of it by a loved one. It is possible to have bad breath and not be aware of it.
The causes of bad breath can include:
* The food that is digested in the body can lead to a smell coming from the lungs – particularly those foods that have a strong odor.
* Cigarette smoking or chewing tobacco.
* Tooth decay.
* Gum disease – persistent bad breath is often a symptom of this type of problem.
* Yeast and other infections of the mouth.
* Abscesses in the mouth.
* Plaque on the teeth
* Dry mouth (xerostomia) may lead to bad breath – this can be an undesirable side effect of some medications.
* Sometimes it may be a sign of liver or kidney problems.
* Poor oral hygiene
* Reaction to certain foods – for example, lactose intolerance.
* Trapped food particles in the mouth that attract bacteria
* Sinus infection or foreign bodies in the nose can also lead to bad breath for those who exhale through their nose.
* Dentures that are not properly cleaned can cause an odor.
* Poorly fitted dentures can cause fragments of food to accumulate in the mouth.
* Respiratory infections.
* Acid reflux
* People who have diabetes may suffer from bad breath as a result.
If people have been drinking excessively there will usually be plenty of evidence for this behavior. One of the more noticeable effects will be bad breath and an unpleasant odor from their skin. Those individuals who have developed a drink problem may regularly produce these unpleasant odors.
The reason for why alcohol consumption leads to bad breath can be explained by the way the body deals with it. This substance is treated as a toxin by the body so it tries to convert it to a less harmful chemical. Through metabolism 90% of the alcohol will be converted into acetic acid but some of it is released via the respiratory system and through sweat. It is this that accounts for the bad odor associated with overindulgence with alcohol. There is also an unpleasant smell that can originate from the stomach – this is particularly noticeable if the individual belches. Some alcoholic drinks create a more noticeable smell than others – liqueurs and other aromatic concoctions are the worst offenders.
If people regularly carry odors associated with overindulgence in alcohol it may be a sign that they have a drink problem. This individual may attempt to hide this evidence by chewing mints or using breath freshening sprays, but it is difficult to completely disguise this symptom of alcoholism. In many instances the individual will be in denial about their drink problem. Other signs of alcoholism can include:
* The individual continues to consume alcohol even though it has started to cause problems in their life.
* They sometimes use alcohol in a way that puts them in physical danger. An example of this would be driving a car while still under the influence of alcohol.
* They are drinking more alcohol than they did in the past. Increased tolerance means that the individual needs to drink more to get the same effect.
* They experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to quit or cut back significantly.
* The individual is neglecting their home, work, or social responsibilities. This could include regularly turning up to work with a hangover.
* They feel the need to drink in order to relax. The individual claims that alcohol helps them deal better with stress.
* Drinking is negatively impacting the individual’s relationships with family and friend.
* They have lost interest in activities they once enjoyed.
* The individual does not like going places where there is no alcohol available.
* They make promises to change their behavior but fail to live up to these promises.
* The individual has needed to apologize for their actions while inebriated.
* They seem unable to remember periods of time when they were drinking. This is due to a type of amnesia known as blackouts.
The individual does not need to have all of the above symptoms for them to be considered an alcoholic.
Sometimes people think they have bad breath, but this isn’t actually the case. This is referred to as halitophobia or delusional halitosis. The individual just develops the idea that they have bad breath without any objective confirmation of this. Halitophobia can be related to mental health problems such as obsessive compulsive disorder and hypochondria. It is probably a good idea that people fully establish that they have bad breath before trying to treat it.
Halitosis can be a real impediment in people’s lives so it makes sense to find a solution for it. The first step is to identify the underlying cause and deal with this. Other steps for managing bad breath include:
* People should avoid drinking too much alcohol. It is also good to know the drinks that are most likely to cause bad breath and keep away from these.
* Those people who have developed a dependence on alcohol should seek help.
* Cigarette smoking means that people can smell like an ashtray – it is best to give up this habit if people want fresh breath.
* It is important that people follow an effective dental hygiene regime. Daily flossing is recommended as this will remove any trapped food particles.
* It is important to clean the tongue as well as the just the teeth.
* A fairly common cause of bad breath is tooth decay. It is recommended that people visit their dentist at least once a year – ideally every six months.
* It is good to be aware of the foods that are most likely to cause bad breath – these include any dishes with onions or garlic.
* Some people can develop bad breath because they are having a reaction to a certain food. It is worth checking this out.
* There are many mouth washes and sprays available for treating bad breath. The effects of these products tend to be short lasting.
* Persistent bad breath can also be a sign of some underlying medical condition so it is worth seeking a doctor’s opinion.
* It is worth keeping a diary to establish the causes of bad breath. This could involve noting any foods or beverages consumed during the day.
* There are certain natural remedies that are said to be effective against bad breath; these include mint oil, ginger, and citrus fruits (particularly lemons).
* If the bad breath lingers despite attempts to deal with it then it might be worth consulting with a dentist.
* It is important that people do not worry too much about bad breath. Everyone suffers from this condition at least occasionally.