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Oral Malodour / Foetor / Bad Breath / Halitosis  

Oral malodor (halitosis) is a problem of all ages.  

The most common cause of the oral malodor is the poor oral hygiene. Due to poor oral hygiene, a large number of bacteria belonging to different species make their home in the mouth. They survive on the food particles entangled in between the teeth and as a by-product, produce different substances like Sulphides, Mercaptans and Amines in gas form. These gases are perceived as bad breath by other people.  

Few other diseases may also cause bad breath or oral malodor. Sometimes, a person may feel his / her own bad breath even after a thorough examination and investigations with no apparent cause. The psychological evaluation helps in these cases.  

To treat bad breath, one can follow a home care routine. If it is not going away, contact your dentist or a doctor, because bad breath is also caused by the diseases mentioned below. 



Home care: Routine steps that may be helpful in few less-serious cases are:

  1. Brush your teeth at least twice a day  
  2. Floss daily  
  3. Use a tongue cleaner to clean the tongue  
  4. Use a mouth wash  
  5. Quit smoking and avoid tobacco products  
  6. Eat a sugarless candy or chew sugarless gum  
  7. Drink water at regular intervals  
  8. Eat fresh fruits or vegetables between meals  

See a dentist if:  

  1. It affects interpersonal relationships 
  2. It is not controlled in spite of maintaining good oral hygiene 
  3. It is associated with severe toothache, oozing fluids from the gums 
  4. Visible vesicles (an abnormal spot, bump, patch, or sore) in the mouth 
  5. Discharge from the nose 
  6. Sputum with pus when spitting or coughing

Common causes of Halitosis / Foetor / Bad Breath

Bad breath is not always related to an underlying condition. It may also be caused by:   

  1. Eating food including garlic, onions and strong Indian spices   
  2. Consuming strong- smelling drinks, e. g. coffee and alcohol   
  3. Smoking and other tobacco products
  4. Crash diets, low carbohydrate diets   
  5. Certain medicines   
  6. Poor oral hygiene  

Certain oral diseases can cause bad breath. They are  

  1. Acute gingivitis  
  2. Acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis  
  3. Aggressive adult periodontitis  
  4. Pericoronitis  
  5. Dry socket  
  6. Xerostomia  
  7. Oral ulcers  
  8. Oral cancer  

Few respiratory diseases can cause bad breath too. They are  

  1. Sinusitis  
  2. Tonsillitis  
  3. Bronchiectasis  
  4. Bronchitis  
  5. Malignancy  

There are few systemic diseases that may cause halitosis. They are  

  1. Acute febrile illness as in acute viral fever  e. g. Coronavirus disease
  2. Upper respiratory tract infection  
  3. Hepatic failure  
  4. End stage renal failure  
  5. Diabetic ketoacidosis  
  6. Leukaemia  
  7. Menstruation  
  8. Trimethylaminuria  
  9. Hypermethioninemia 
  10. Pyloric stenosis   
  11. Helicobacter pylori infection   
  12. Pharyngo-esophageal diverticulum   
  13. Gastro esophageal reflux disease  

As in all cases of viral infection, there always remains the possibility of bad breath/halitosis in Covid-19 patients.



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