Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bad Breath

Need to take mints right after your each meal to help cover your bad breath? Familiar? If yes, please make sure you avoid taking in sugary mints, as it will only help with the bad breath temporarily, and next thing you know the bad breath is getting even worse.

The term for bad breath is halitosis. The smell is from substances called volatile sulphur compounds caused by the breakdown of protein in the mouth by bacteria. When breaking down the protein, bacteria produce compounds which have aromas characteristics of rotten eggs, cabbage, sulphur, gasoline, mothballs, faeces, corpses, urine, decaying flesh, sweat, rancid-cheese, and off-milk.

The bad breath also occur in the morning when we wake up, or after we finish exercise. The underlying reason is that when we sleep and/or exercise (dehydrate), the flow of saliva diminishes, and thus less flushing of food by saliva. This causes the food to stay longer in our mouth to be broken down by the bacteria.

Another cause of halitosis is poor oral hygiene, such as gingivitis and periodontitis. When foods are gathered in damaged gums and teeth, the bacteria have plenty of time to break down the foods.

Less common cause of halitosis include infections such as bronchitis, post nasal drip, or sinus infection; chronic conditions such as diabetes, kidney or liver failure, reflux oesophagitis (when oesophagus is inflamed by acidic food entering from stomach).

Smoking can cause bad breath, since it cause mouth to dry and possible gum disease.

Foods such as onions and garlic can give bad aroma, however the smell would not last long.

So save yourself from embarassment. Make sure you do one or more of the following:

- Brush teeth after meal. You can use mouthwash if you prefer, however brushing is more effective
- Floss your teeth after each meal
- Brush back of your tongue or scrape with a tongue scraper
- Take sugarless sweets to help stimulate saliva production
- Drink plenty of water (the easiest way for us working people!)

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