Mouth Odour, Causes Symptoms and Treatment

Mouth odour also called halitosis is a condition in which unpleasant odor comes out from the mouth. It can be caused by poor oral hygiene or some certain foods. Halitosis can be embarrassing and in some cases may even cause anxiety. 

Mouth odour is experienced by a large number of people around the world, with occurrence of 1 out of every 4. The most common sign being a sour, bitter or metallic taste in the mouth, this bitter or metallic taste is often as a result of a dry mouth which is very common in people taking any form of daily medication and of course you could also not be drinking sufficient water to keep your body hydrated.

Causes of Mouth Odour (Bad Breath)

The following can cause bad breath;

Poor Dental Hygiene: When we don't take care of our mouth daily by proper brushing and flossing, food particles can remain in your mouth, promoting bacterial growth between teeth, around the gums, and on the tongue. 

Food: Eating certain foods, such as onions, garlic and spices, also can cause bad breath. After you digest these foods, they enter your bloodstream, are carried to your lungs and affect your breath.

When these food particles are broken down around your teeth and gums, they cause awful smells.

Tobacco: Smoking causes its own unpleasant mouth odor because of the scent that is created by the cigarette smoke which lingers in your throat and lungs. Smoking also leaves chemical compounds in your mouth that can mix with your saliva and cause bad breath.

Medications: Some medications cause bad breath because they reduce saliva production which contributes to a dry mouth. Saliva has the useful purpose of keeping bacteria that cause halitosis in check.

Others can be broken down in the body to release chemicals that can be carried on your breath.

Infections: Bad breath can be caused by surgical wounds after oral surgery, such as tooth removal, or as a result of tooth decay, gum disease or mouth sores.

Also, Infections or chronic inflammation in the nose, sinuses or throat, which can contribute to postnasal drip, also can cause bad breath.

Dry Mouth: this is a medical condition also known as xerostomia, it can lead to bad breath because saliva production is reduced. Saliva is necessary to moisten the mouth, neutralize acids produced by plaque, and wash away dead cells that accumulate on the tongue, gums, and cheeks. If not removed, these cells decompose and can cause bad breath. 

Diseases/Disorders: Some disease conditions such as some cancers, and conditions such as metabolic disorders, can cause a distinctive breath odor as a result of chemicals they produce. Chronic reflux of stomach acids (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) can be associated with bad breath. Bad breath in young children can be caused by a foreign body, such as a piece of food, lodged in a nostril. 

Occasionally, bad breath can stem from small stones that form in the tonsils and are covered with bacteria that produce odor.

Symptoms of Bad Breath

The following symptoms can be seen;

  • White coating on the tongue especially at the back of the tongue
  • Dry mouth
  • Build up around teeth
  • Post-nasal drip, or mucous
  • Morning bad breath and a burning tongue
  • Thick saliva and a constant need to clear your throat
  • Constant sour, bitter metallic taste.

Treatment Options for Bad Breath

The treatment depends mainly on the cause of the condition, but avoiding dehydration and good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing, are important no matter the cause. 

Proper cleaning of the tongue is important. The tongue should be brushed in a gentle but thorough manner, from the back towards the front of the tongue, keeping in mind that the hardest to reach back portion smells the worst.

Remember that brushing alone reaches only 25% of your mouth. Rinsing with mouthwash allows you to clean virtually your entire mouth and helps freshen your breath. Then in the case of mouth diseases or disorders, diagnosing and treating the condition can get rid of the bad breath

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