Wendy Parker, RDH
The Secrets About Halitosis
Before we even start trading secrets, what is Halitosis? Halitosis is the fancy word for “Bad Breath.” We’ve all had it at one point or another. Whether that is morning breath, when we’ve forgotten to brush, or when we’ve eaten something with a strong taste. Whether temporary or permanent, bad breath comes to everyone. So let’s talk about the secrets of where it comes from, why we get it, and most importantly, how to get rid of it!
Bad breath can come from several sources. Here’s a list of some of the most common ones:
- Tooth decay or / and gum disease such as gingivitis
- Dentures and bridges
- Mouth sores
- Dry mouth
- Post-nasal drip and congestion of the nasal passages
- Food stuck between the teeth
- Coating of the tongue caused by a build up of bacteria
- Infection of the throat and tonsils
- Nasal polyps
- Bronchitis or pneumonia
- Acid reflux and GERD
- Chronic constipation
- Digestive problems and stomach ulcers
- High-protein diet that includes fish, cheeses, and meats
- Foods that are strong smelling or spicy such as onions and garlic, exotic spices (ie. curry)
- Supplements, such as Fish Oil Capsules
- Low Carb Diets – causing “Ketone breath” as a result of the low carb consumption causing the body to burn fat as it’s energy source which then causes an end product of the body making ketones, which causes a fruity acetone-like odor when exhaled
- Certain medications
The bacteria build up on tiny rounded projections called papillae which are on the surface of the tongue, also known as tastebuds. These papillae grown longer catch all the food and bacteria in the mouth. Without brushing your tongue or removing the bacteria, it can embed in the tongue and causing a coating. Black hairy tongue is caused by bacteria or fungi in the mouth, which make the tongue to appear black and hairy.
Certain lifestyle habits and conditions can make people more likely to develop black hairy tongue. They include:
- poor oral hygiene
- smoking tobacco
- drinking a lot of coffee or tea
- using antibiotics (which may disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in the mouth)
- being dehydrated
- taking medications that contain the chemical Bismuth (such as Pepto-Bismol for upset stomach)
- not producing enough saliva
- regularly using mouthwash that contains peroxide, witch hazel, or menthol
- getting radiation therapy to the head and neck
Black hairy tongue is more common in men, people who use intravenous drugs, and those who are HIV-positive.
Now that we learned about Halitosis and Black Hairy Tongue, here are tips and tricks to getting rid of it:
Gently brush your teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush, but more importantly, don’t forget your tongue!!! Start at the back of your tongue and scrape forward, being sure not to scrub the tongue and embed the bacteria even further. You can use a tongue scraper to make sure you’re thoroughly cleaning the area. Be sure to come in for your regular check up and cleanings so that your friendly hygienist can help you too! Soon, the coating will go away and so will the bad breath.
If you find that you have consistent bad breath you can try our other tips:
- If you smoke, quit.
- Add more roughage to your diet. Soft foods won’t clean off the tongue effectively.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help keep your mouth clean.
Natural home remedies include:
- Fenugreek should be consumed in the form of a tea made with one teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in one liter of water. Simmer till the water is infused and strain before drinking. When consumed regularly, fenugreek seeds are an excellent home remedy for halitosis.
- Making a tea or infusion with fresh parsley or cloves is also a good way to treat bad breath. Simply boil water with freshly chopped parsley and drop in a few cloves to the mix. Cool the mixture and strain before using it as a natural mouthwash after eating. There have been numerous studies supporting claims about the efficacy of cloves and clove oil in dental care.
- include fresh vegetables, fruits and grains into your daily diet.
- increase your intake of Vitamin C from foods
- include guava in your diet
An individual should consult their physician for a diagnosis if they have
- persistent dry mouth
- sores in the mouth
- pain with chewing or swallowing
- white spots on the tonsils
- any other symptoms of concern
Call your doctor or dentist if the problem doesn’t get better on its own. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or an antifungal drug to get rid of the bacteria or yeast. Topical medications, such as tretinoin (Retin-A), are also sometimes prescribed. As a last resort, if the problem doesn’t improve, the papillae can be surgically clipped off with a laser or electrosurgery.
Hopefully this let you in on some of our secrets to a happy healthy mouth! Happy brushing and breathing everyone!
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