Prof. Dost Ali Baloch BDS BSc DDPH RCS (Eng) Professor /Incharge Oral Biology Sir Syed College of Medical Sciences
Prof. HR Sukhia BDS, BSc, MS, F.D.S.R.C.P.S, F.D.S (Orth)R.C.S.I, M.Orth R.C.S
Halitosis or bad breath is the most commonly encountered problem, seen in Karachi’s dental and orthodontic patients, especially in private clinic setups.
This condition is usually caused due to the bad gases released by bacteria,that coat the teeth and gums. Strong foods like garlic, various spices and onions can add to the problem. Cigarette smoking, tobacco, pan and betel nut chewing are also one of the main causes of bad breath in our country.
Pieces of food caught between the teeth and tongue quickly rot and causes a smelly mouth. Last but not the least, plaque and calculus deposition due to dental neglect also leads to Halitosis.
How to Diagnose Bad Breath
Advise the patient to take a second opinion, and ask his friends or family to be absolutely honest. Look for signs, if people from their circle or even the dentist starts stepping away when they talk. The best simple home-diagnosis is to ask patient to lick the inside of his wrist and smell it. If the smell is pungent and displeasing, then it’s a clear case of bad breath. This method creates self-awareness regarding this issue. Identify interdental periodontal pockets for food traps, and explain to the patient where and what to concentrate on during brushing.
Routine cleaning and prophylactic scaling does wonders. You should recommend all halitosis patients to professionally have their teeth cleaned every 3 months. Scaling will remove food from within the interdental spaces, gingival and periodontal pockets.
The dentist should always demonstrate proper brushing technique and recommend dental floss for hard reaching areas. Inter-dental cleaning tooth brushes are also available for patients with orthodontic fixed braces.
Prevention & Cure
The teeth and gingiva must be clean and healthy. Ask the patient to keep a list of food items and medications taken daily. Recommend fluoride toothpastes, and brush the tongue too. If patient is wearing dentures, then leave them out overnight. Prescribe denture cleaning tablets for them. Avoid any chances for plaque and calculus build up by prescribing bacterial or chlorhexidine mouth washes, to be used twice, daily. Mint oral sprays are also available for a quick temporary results.
Most cases of bad breath can be resolved with simple dental measures, however, with age comes systemic problems and complications within the gastro-intestinal region and throat. For this, always ask the patient to have a thorough checkup with an ENT or Gastro-Intestinal Specialists, to evaluate their overall health status.