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Halitosis may also be a sign that you have other health conditions, writes Tengku Sofiah Aishah
BAD breath is so common that most, if not all of us have sucked on mints before an important meeting, carry travel-size mouthwash in handbags or sniff our breaths on the palms to make sure it doesn’t assault the senses of the person we will be talking to.
Associate director of Johnson & Johnson’s global research, development and engineering in Asia Pacific region, Dr Arunee Laiteerapong, says halitosis is caused by two major factors.
“It is not genetic. It is caused by either the patient’s oral condition or systemic health.”
Halitosis is a term used to describe noticeably unpleasant odours exhaled in breathing. Since the mouth is exposed to less oxygen and is inactive, it is usually worse when you haven’t eaten anything or when you wake up in the morning. Certain medications can also cause bad breath.
“Most patients have bad breath because of oral conditions like gum problems. For example, some bacteria will stay in gum pockets and produce gas that causes bad breath,” she continues.
Bad breath due to oral conditions can be easily tackled. You just need to visit your dentist. While gum diseases are more prevalent among adults, kids are more prone to cavities.
If you have a sweet tooth, don’t worry as moderation is key. This also applies to the carbohydrate and sweets you consume daily.
Bad breath may be transient, often disappearing following eating, brushing one’s teeth, flossing or rinsing with mouthwash. “If bad breath is from food, it is temporary. There is no restriction to your diet to avoid bad breath if you can clean your teeth well,” says the Thailand-based dentist.
Unfortunately, this is not true for most patients. Dentists found that most patients cannot brush well so the quality of mechanical plaque control measures is not sufficient to effectively prevent gingivitis.
Brushing and flossing only focus on hard surfaces in the mouth which is about 21 to 23 per cent of the total mouth area.
“Brushing and tongue cleaning are the mechanical technique. We use devices to clean but most patients do not clean their tongue. Using antiseptic mouth rinse will help kill bacteria and consequently reduce bad breath problem,” she adds.
Tongue and biofilm, a community of microorganisms forming dental plaque, are also common causes of halitosis. Therefore, tongue cleaning must not be taken lightly. There are several devices available for the task.
However, if halitosis persists even with good oral hygiene, it may be caused by systemic health. This can be an indicator of a more serious medical condition.
“If it is not from oral condition, it may be dangerous. You need to see the dentist and doctor to make the final diagnosis,” she says at the launch of Listerine Natural Green Tea recently.
Dr Laiteerapong recommends using mouth wash twice a day after brushing.
Having said that, some ingredients in toothpaste such as sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) can interact with the flouride in mouth wash and loses its effect because there is no active agent. For this reason, wait at least half an hour after brushing before sluicing with mouth wash.
Flouride mouth rinse is the best but only non-ionic mouth rinse like Listerine Natural Green Tea which contains cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) can be gargled immediately after brushing because it does not deactivate the active agents.
LISTERINE Natural Green Tea is a mild and refreshing flavour for not only adults but also kids above 6. Available at all major pharmacies and hypermarkets in 80ml, 250ml and 750ml and priced between RM4.90 and RM22.90.