Bad breath, which is technically known as halitosis, is identifiable offensive smell on the breath. This condition had been with humankind for thousands of years as it is described in the historical textbooks. The exact prevalence of bad breath is not known but it is worst upon awakening and getting out of the bed.
Halitosis Causes in Your Mouth
Bad breath originates in the mouth in up to 90 percent of patients. This is the result of bacterial breakdown of amino acids which can come from food debris, stagnant saliva, blood or postnasal drip. A number of different gases are identified to be contributing to bad breath. The origin of this bad smell is from the bacteria between teeth and posterior part of the tongue.
Dental infection and abscess can also cause a foul odor. Gingival inflammation and periodontitis can also contribute to halitosis. Oral malodor is directly linked to interdental hygiene. Flossing and improved dental hygiene are shown to reduce the incidence of bad breath.
Nasal passage can also be an origin for bad breath. Nasal malodor is typically slightly cheesy. This can be a direct indicative a nasal infection such as sinusitis or a problem with the mucosa such as polyp. A fair number of patients with no identifiable disease suffer from nasal malodor. An important concern in children is foreign body in the nose which will usually cause an offensive odor.
Tonsils can also be the source of halitosis. In these cases, foul smelling stones are seen on the tongue or tonsils when the patient coughs. These are known as tonsilloliths that form in the crypts of the tonsils. The source of the malodor is not necessarily these stones despite their very foul smell.
Many other diseases can cause bad breath. Bronchial and lung infections are important and should be mentioned in this category. Other non-infection disease causing halitosis are kidney failure, liver failure, some carcinomas, metabolic dysfunction and biochemical disorders. The odor of Ketone (acetone) is a classically described odor associated with diabetes in poorly controlled individuals which is currently rarely seen in well-maintained diabetics in modern societies.
It should be noted that bad smell never arises from the esophagus, stomach, or intestines. Esophagus is collapsed and an occasional belch can carry odor but it is not likely that it can continuously carry the foul odor. Patients with regurgitation have a higher rate of self-reported halitosis but this does not show the source of the bad smell.
Antibiotic treatment is shown to reduce the rate of halitosis but it is not scientifically justified to treat halitosis with systemic antibiotic treatment. Another important factor contributing to bad breath is cigarettes smoking. Remember that quitting smoking is one of the wisest decisions that one can make in his life.
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