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Bad Breath/ Halitosis

Halitosis/ bad breath from the mouth is a common condition seen in almost 50 percent of the adult population. It is very embarrassing because many times the person himself is unaware and another person points it out. Bad breath can be periodic or persistent.
It can be caused by
1- EXTERNAL FACTORS – These could be smell generating food products like onion, garlic, some types of fish, smoking and tobacco. Any person suffering from bad breath should first record what they are eating.


a- POOR DENTAL CARE/ HYGIENE- When people don’t take care of their oral health by skipping night brushing, not flossing their teeth, not rinsing their mouth every time they eat, food particles remain in their mouth. These particles decay over time.
b- BACTERIA IN THE MOUTH- In many people there are many bacteria, which reside in the mouth. They attach themselves on the surface of the tongue. The warm temperature of the mouth and the moist conditions provide an ideal environment for the bacteria to thrive. Most of the odor causing bacteria, produce sulfur compounds which are volatile. These cause bad breath.
c- DENTURES- When plaque (which is nothing but a combination of bacteria and food debris) and food deposit on the surface of full or partial dentures in the patients mouth, as patients are not cleaning these dentures properly and regularly, it causes bad smell.
d- DENTAL ISSUES- Poor oral hygiene due to lack of proper brushing, flossing, rinsing after meals, cleaning the tongue causes dental infections ie gingivitis (inflammation of the gums; the gums are spongy, bleedy and smell foul) and periodontitis (this occurs when the inflammation spreads to the underlying bone.)
e- DRY MOUTH- This is called Xerostomia. It happens as a result of salivary glands malfunctioning, due to patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, certain medications, mouth breathers.


a- RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTIONS- Stuffy nose with a discharge, throat infections, cough especially the wet variety where mucus is produced, sinus infections, swollen lymph nodes or glands in the throat, inflamed tonsils
b- GASTRIC PROBLEMS- Any gastric problems such as constipation, gas, reflux problems, acidity etc. all get reflected in the mouth as bad odor.
c- SYSTEMIC/ ILLNESSES OF THE BODY – Symptoms of liver disease, kidney disease, lung diseases, diabetes.
d- People who are on a constant diet.
Dental clinics in Delhi are making a lot of effort to treat Halitosis. Dentists in Delhi do not take bad breath in patients casually, as it could be an indicator of a systemic problem. A dentist may diagnose this halitosis problem in a patient while taking his/her history. Once the dentist discovers this, he will take a medical history to try and understand if there are any medical problems or if which the patient is having any medicines or drugs that may be contributing to the bad breath. The kind of smell itself can be an indicator of the type of systemic disease e.g. a fruity smell is an indication of uncontrolled diabetes, urine like smell can be indicative of kidney disease.
Then the dentist will check if there are any local factors in the mouth contributing to this bad breath and treat it accordingly.
If there is any gum infection and the patient needs to be referred to the gum specialist/ periodontist, then that would be done.
If there is any abscess with any tooth and that is contributing to the odor, then the dentist would take care of that. It may need a root canal/ a curettage/ a flap treatment.
If a systemic disease is diagnosed, like diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome contributing to dry mouth, kidney disease, then the patient is referred to the concerned doctor. Some tests and investigations maybe needed like blood tests, urine tests, xrays for sinuses/ chest. Dentists in Delhi, especially in clinics like Smile Delhi-The Dental Clinic, are working in collaboration with physicians to look after their patients’ comprehensive health. Dental clinics in Delhi, are keeping this in mind that, oral and systemic health are closely inter related, while treating their patients.
If the cause of bad breath is a local condition like dental hygiene or gum health, then as soon as the local condition is treated, the bad breath disappears.
If the cause of bad breath is a local condition like dental hygiene or gum health, then as soon as the local condition is treated, the bad breath disappears.
If the cause of Halitosis is a systemic condition/medical problem, may last longer and gets treated with proper medical care.
Bad breath due to a dental problems can be prevented by regular brushing twice a day ie post breakfast and post dinner, rinsing ones mouth every time one snacks or eats, flossing regularly, cleaning the surface of the tongue while brushing, visiting the dentist every 6 months.
Also the mouth can be kept fresh, the salivary flow increased and acidic ph. neutralized by drinking lots of water, having the sugar free chewing gum and lozenges, having lots of fiber like carrots, salads etc.

Posted By – Dr. Suprriya B. Bhatia