Halitosis which is commonly referred as BAD BREATH affects a substantial number of people in all countries. The causes range widely but 85-90% of all the causes originate from the mouth itself.
The seven most common causes of bad breath are:
1. Accumulation of Food Debris: The most common cause for bad breath is the accumulation of food debris on or between the teeth, coated
tongue (resulting from poor oral hygiene). These food particles are acted upon by anaerobic bacteria producing respiratory products which give off the characteristic rotten egg smell.
2. Tooth Decay: The decay of tooth (Caries) by bacteria is an important causative agent of bad breath. The bacteria have putrefactive (rottening) action on the tooth leading to its demineralization causing halitosis.
3. Dryness of mouth (Xerostomia): Saliva has extensive anti-bacterial action. When there is reduction or absence of saliva in the oral cavity, it leads to accumulation of plaque which favors bacterial growth causing bad breath.
4. Gum Diseases: Gum diseases and periodontal diseases are important causative agents of bad breath.
5. Smoking: Smoking causes smokers breath which is due to the accumulation of nicotine, tar and other foul smelling substances in the oral cavity.
6. Severe Dieting: Apart from the innumerable other harmful affects, severe dieting also causes bad breath due to ketoacidosis because of prolonged starvation.
7. Extra-oral sources: The extra oral causes of bad breath include infections of respiratory tract, diabetes and kidney dysfunction.
An important aspect of halitosis that should be mentioned is Halitophobia or delusional Halitosis which affects around 25% of the people seeking professional advice for Halitosis. Halitophobia is the fear of having bad breath (and not actual bad breath) which drives these people to seek professional advice.
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