The really embarrassing thing about bad breath is that all too often you don’t become aware of until it’s pointed out to you by somebody else. But don’t worry – it can affect the best of us, not just heavy smokers or garlic eaters.
Bad breath is medically known as halitosis. It will often be temporary, caused by eating highly spiced foods, for example. Alcohol and cigarettes also give the breath characteristic, unpleasant smells.
But the most likely cause of recurrent bad breath is poor dental hygiene. Plaque – a sticky film of bacteria and other ingredients – can cause decay if allowed to build up around the teeth. It can also cause a gum disease called gingivitis . The gums will then look inflamed and bleed easily when you brush your teeth. Bad breath is a common accompanying symptom.
Regular brushing of teeth and use of dental floss – a special strong thread or tape which is passed through the spaces between the teeth – combined with a mouthwash (particularly one of the antibacterial mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine) and regular trips to the dentist, will usually bring about a cure.
If your dentist can find nothing wrong and bad breath is persistent, consult your doctor. He can examine you to exclude another common cause – nasal polyps. These are benign growths, readily removed, which can prevent proper drainage in the nose and lead to mild infection. Sinusitis, chronic catarrh, chest infection, digestive problems and constipation are all other possible causes of bad breath.
In fact, any sudden change in diet can be responsible -would-be slimmers have found that a high-protein diet, lacking in carbohydrate and fibre, will often make their breath smell unpleasant. This is likely to be due to lack of fibre in the bowel, causing a change in the ‘friendly’ bacterial content and its ‘cleansing’ effect, though no one really knows why this should affect the breath, or if indeed it is the cause of the problem. But charcoal tablets or biscuits could help – probably by absorbing the unpleasant odours, so preventing them from being exhaled.
Listermint, Listerine Antiseptic, Bragg’s Medicinal Charcoal Tablets, Oraldene
Kali. Phos., Merc. Sol.