HALITOSIS - WHAT CAUSES BAD BREATH?
Did you know that bad teeth or gums are not the only source of bad breath? And that many other organs of the body could be contributing to it?
Yes, after dental causes, there are many other body organs that can contribute to halitosis – from the nose, the throat, the stomach- to the lungs!!
Bad Breath causes many serious issues – isolation from others since you want to stay away on account of the perceived smell, low self-confidence, poor self-image and, compensatory behaviour like covering your mouth while talking, turning your face away while speaking – so that the smell is not felt by the persons across you.
WHERE DOES BAD BREATH ORIGINATE FROM?
- Teeth and gums – bad breath arises from infected tissue (since bacteria release toxins that can be foul smelling) or from breakdown of food particles which gives rise to a putrid smell
- Nose, sinuses, post nasal drip – infected sinuses cause a post nasal drip which gets layered on the back of the throat to cause a bad smell
- Throat – Tonsils, base of tongue. Infected or affected tonsils are a frequent source of bad smell. To increase the immunogenic powers of the Tonsils they have invaginations called Crypts- food particles sometimes get lodged inside the crypts. Putrefaction or secondary infection of this material causes a bad smell. Sometimes small white crystals called Tonsilloliths form inside the Tonsils and cause long term problems on account of the smell.
- Stomach- acid reflux. Acid reflux in the throat is usually a silent nocturnal affair- leads to a sense of dryness in the throat. It may also cause bad breath.
- Lungs – Surprisingly enough the Lungs are a common source of Halitosis. The “Breath Analyser” test which checks for your alcohol levels is based on the knowledge that alcohol is excreted through your lungs – that is why your mouth continues to smell of alcohol a long time after consumption- the smell comes not from the mouth but the Lungs! Many food items are also excreted by the lungs – specially onion, garlic etc. That is why your mouth smells of garlic even a long time after you have consumed it.
OTHER COMMON CAUSES OF HALITOSIS
- SMOKING AND CONSUMING TOBACCO PRODUCTS – The smell of nicotine persists for quite some time.
- DRY MOUTH – Due to medical conditions like Sjogren Syndrome which reduce saliva production, some drugs, after Radiotherapy, old age (pharyngitis sicca) etc.
- MEDICATION – Some drugs reduce salivary production, and some cause a smell on account of their pharmaceutical properties.
- METABOLIC DISORDERS – Renal Failure, Liver disease, Diabetes, and some very rare disorders like phenylketonuria (PKU), trimethylaminuria (TMA), hypermethioninemia
As we can see bad breath, though most commonly because of oral disease, can arise from a vast array of organs and diseases.
The exact cause has to be ascertained so that it can be treated appropriately.