Tuesday , 31 January 2023


By Fidelia Asogwa

Not too long ago, one of my friends’ sister rejected a suitor because of an unbearable mouth odour. According   to her, the guy was all a woman should desire, but the smell oozing out from his mouth was totally unbearable. And everything she tried to see if she could endure such or handle it could not work especially when she remembered the importance of constant kissing among married people.  Because she could not enjoy or endure his conversation, she could not give him chance for intimacy even when she saw other good qualities in him considerable for a husband.

But then, that shouldn’t have happened assuming she confided in anyone before rejecting the guy entirely.  It is important to ask question in some certain things even if indirectly before taking a final decision in case there is a solution to what you are seeking.

But then what are the causes of bad breath?

Bad breath (Halitosis) is an unpleasant smell on your breath that other people around you notice when you speak or breath out.  This bad breath can come from different sources such as:

  • Foods, drinks and medicines:   Chemicals in foods can get into the bloodstream, and then be breathed out from the lungs.  Most people are familiar with the smell of garlic, spicy foods and alcoholic drinks on the breath of people who have recently eaten and drunk these.   Various foods and   medicines can cause a smell on the breath.  This type of bad breath is temporary and easily cured by not eating the food.  However, some people eat spiced food everyday and as a result, they will constantly have a typical smell on their breath.

If medicine is causing the problem then discuss possible alternatives with your doctor.  Medicines that have been associated with bad breath include:

  • Betel
  • Chloral hydrate
  • Nitrites  and Nitrates
  • Dimethyl sulfoxide
  • Disulfiram
  • Some chemotherapy     medicines
  • Phenothiazines
  • Amfetamines
  • Smoking:  Most non-smokers can tell if a person is a smoker by their breath.  Stopping smoking is the only cure for this type of bad breath.  Smoking also increases the risk of developing gum disease which is another cause of bad breath.
  • Bad breath coming from within the mouth:  In most people who have bad breath, the bad smell is thought to come from germs (bacteria) and debris within the mouth.   As the   bacteria break down proteins and other debris in the mouth, they release foul- smelling gases.  One or more of the following may contribute to the buildup of bacteria, debris and bad breath.

Food stuck between teeth:   Normal teeth brushing may not clear bits of food which can get stuck between teeth.   The food then rots and becomes riddled with bacteria.  Regular cleaning between the teeth can clear and prevent this problem.

Plague, Calculus and gum disease: Dental plague is a soft whitish deposit that forms on the surface of teeth.  It forms when bacteria combine with food and saliva.   Plague contains many types of bacteria.  Calculus is hardened calcified plague.  It sticks firmly to the teeth.  Gum disease means infection or inflammation of the tissues that surround the teeth.  If your gums look inflamed or regularly bleed when you clean your teeth, you are likely to have gum disease.  The severity can range from mild to severe coating on the back of the tongue.  In some people, a coating develops on the back part of the tongue.  It is not clear why this occurs.   It may be from mucus that drips down from the back of the nose (postnasal drip).  The coating can contain many bacteria.  This explains why bad breath can sometimes occur in people with otherwise good oral hygiene.

Tonsil Stones   (tonsilloliths):  These are clusters of calcified material that form in the tonsillar crypts, or crevices of the tonsils.  They are made up mostly of calcium but can contain other ingredients such as magnesium and phosphorus, and can feel like a  small lump in the tonsils.   They can be a nuisance and hard to remove and can often cause bad breath.

  • Medical Disorders and Diseases that cause bad breath
  • Gum infection
  • Throat infection (pharyngitis or tonsillitis)
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Diabetes, tuberculosis, syphilis
  • Liver and kidney diseases
  • Indigestion and stomach problems
  • Others include foods high in protein, zinc deficiency and constant talking.

Recommended Oral Hygiene

The main treatment of bad breath coming from within the mouth is good oral hygiene.   Aim to get into a regular habit of good oral hygiene in particular, teeth brushing and cleaning between teeth. Brush your teeth at least twice a day.  Use a soft-tufted brush and toothpaste that contains fluoride.  The head of the brush should be small enough to get into all the areas of the mouth.   Spend at least two minutes brushing, covering the inside, outside, and biting areas.  Get a new brush every 3 -4 months.

Ideally, brush your teeth either just before eating or at least an hour after eating.  The reason for this is to help prevent tooth erosion.  Many foods contain acids and in particular fizzy drinks(drinks containing bubbles), fizzy water and fruit juices.  After your teeth is exposed to acid, the enamel is a little softened.  But the action of calcium and other mineral salts in the saliva can help to counteract and reverse this softening. Therefore, do not brush teeth immediately after eating when the enamel tends to be at its softest, in particular, after eating or drinking acid foods and drinks.  It is best to wait at least an hour after eating or drinking anything before brushing.  Also limit the amount of sugary foods and drinks that you take.  Try to brush your mouth again after taking diary product like milk. Some people after taking tea and milk in  the morning usually have mouth odour that people they speak to at that moment notice.  It is better to brush again after taking this to avoid unnecessary embarrassment.

Naturally Ways to Cure Bad Breath

No matter what is causing your bad breath (ruling out any serious health issue) avoid the dangers of mouthwash and solve it naturally.  Remember that most mouthwashes contain alcohol amongst other ingredients that the consumer should approach with caution.  In some mouthwashes, there is as much as 27% alcohol.  That is more than an entire six pack of beer.  Also the ethanoyl contained in mouthwash is reported to allow cancer causing agents to invade the delicate lining of the mouth and cause problems.   Additionally, acetaldehyde  a by-product of mouthwash thought to be cancer causing as well.

If you are being plagued by a persistent case of bad breath, try any one or more of these natural solutions to discover a fresher breath.

Lemon:  Suck a lemon slice or squeeze a fresh lemon into a glass of water.  Then drink the water or gargle with it or simply place a drop of lemon on the tip of the tongue.  Lemon stimulates saliva production which will help to combat bad breath.

Water:  A dry mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria which produce sulfur compound-one of the common causes of bad breath.  So drinking enough water daily keeps these bacteria’s actions to a minimum and decreases your bad breath.

Eat carrots and Apples: Eating more carrots and apples preferably organic ones help scrape out the plague building that are responsible for causing bad breath.  These fruits also trigger an increased production of bacteria fighting saliva inside the mouth.

Salt water gargle:  You might also find a salt water gargle to be useful as this combination helps to eliminate bacteria from your throat and tonsils.

If after undergoing all these tips and the bad breath still persist, then there may be an underlying disease causing it that requires treatment.  Test for any of the above mentioned diseases  and find out the main cause  of your bad breath and deal with it to avoid its social effects and discrimination among friends.

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