Bad breath: Causes, Prevention and Treatment of Oral Malodour

Oral Malodor is a condition characterized by an unpleasant odour emanating from the oral cavity.

Causes of Malodour:

1. Intraoral

90% of the cases of Malodour are because of intraoral conditions like:

  • Deep cavities with food impaction
  • Interdental impaction
  • Oral infection or ulceration
  • Inflammation of gingiva or any infection in the surrounding tissue.
  • A high correlation between tongue coating and Malodour, in other words, poor oral hygiene.

2. Extraoral

Some systemic conditions also contribute to Malodour but it’s rare.
Malodor can be seen in condition like

  • Sinusitis, tonsillitis, bronchitis etc.
  • Lungs and kidney diseases
  • Diabetes
  • A typical odour can develop during the menstrual cycle because of an increase in the levels of progesterone.
  • Antibiotics like Metronidazole also cause Malodour.

Tips To Prevent or Treat Malodour

  • Brushing, and most importantly, cleaning the tongue are very helpful to decrease Malodour. Thus, maintaining oral hygiene is very important.
  • Using dental floss and an interdental brush is advisable to prevent food impaction.
  • Consult a dentist for gum diseases, cavities or infections and get them treated immediately.
  • Mouthrinses like chlorhexidine, Listerine, etc. and Lozenges also help to reduce Malodour; however, they only give short term relief and are definitely not a permanent solution.
  • If any of the oral conditions are not present, it is advisable to consult a physician for proper diagnosis.

Malodor should not be confused with momentarily disturbing odour caused by the intake of foods like garlic, onions, etc. or odour after smoking because these odours do not reveal any health problem. Similarly, morning bad breath is caused because the amount of saliva decreases in the mouth when we sleep, thus leading to dry mouth. This odour also disappears after brushing and having breakfast. Fasting also causes bad breath which goes away after eating and maintaining oral hygiene. So, a persistent Malodour does reflect some pathology.

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