Bad breath or mouth odour or fetor oris is one of the commonest reasons patients visit their dentist. The reasons are not far-fetched: it has ended relationships between partner, it affects the social acceptability of a person, self-confidence and in extreme cases, it can lead to suicidal tendency etc. Research has shown that 25% of the world population suffer from mouth odour, meaning 1 in every 4 persons suffers from bad breath. The first step in addressing the problem is to be able to know the possible causes. The following are commonest causes of mouth odour:
POOR ORAL HYGIENE
This is a major cause of mouth odour. Lack of toothrushing or improper toothbrushing methods will lead to accumulation of food particles which the bacteria in the oral cavity can act upon to produce foul-smelling odour. Lack of good oral hygiene can predispose to more problems such as bleeding gum, cavities etc which may lead to mouth odour.
Frequent gastric reflux can lead to the escape of gastric content to the oral cavity, this can lead to mouth odour. Indigestion or constipation can also result in bad breath
CERTAIN FOOD CONSUMPTION
Food substances such as garlic, onion and the likes can produce mouth odour after digestion and absorption into the bloodstream. They manifest through the breathing of the affected person.
The use of tobacco in any form – either by chewing or smoking can produce mouth odour. Its efffect is usully localised, the smoke inhaled would manifest in the breath of the person for a considerable period of time. Then the chewed one produce the same effect as well as producing bad breath through acterial action.
The Saliva naturally ha a self-cleansing effect in the oral cavity. Consequently, any medical problems or intake of beverages such as coffee or prolonged silence can cause dry mouth which can result in mouth odour as a result of bacterial proliferation.
USE OF CERTAIN DRUGS
Some drugs can cause mouth odour by reducing saliva flow or by releasing chemicals in the lungs. Drugs such as nitrates, some anti-psychotic drugs and chemotherapeutic drugs can produce mouth odour through either of the aforementioned mechanisms.
DISEASES OF THE NOSE, THROAT AND MOUTH
Tonsillitis , sinusitis and other diseases of the mouth, nose and the throat can produce mouth odour. For example, Sinusitis can result in post-nasal drip leading to escape of the foul-smelling discharge into the oral cavity.
This usually occurs in diabetic patient, when insulin is low and the body utilizes the fat reservoir. This results in ketone production which manifest in the breathing leading to mouth odour.
Lungs diseases e.g aspiration pneumonia, bronchiectasis can cause mouth odour. Aspiration pneumonia occurs from escape of vomitus or saliva or food into the lungs.
This is commoner in children who might have ignorantly place bodies in the nose. This can result in accumulations of mucus which can cause mouth odour