Bad breath or halitosis occurs when there is unpleasant breath or odor. It is a significant issue as it can cause anxiety for those who are affected. Bad breath can be divided into genuine and non-genuine cases. 85 percent of bad breath cases are genuine, which means they come from inside the mouth. The remaining cases occur due to disorders in the esophagus, nose, throat, sinuses, lungs, or stomach. They are rarely due to underlying medical conditions like ketoacidosis or liver failure. Non-genuine cases occur when an individual feels that they have bad breath, which cannot be detected by another person. The treatment of halitosis depends on the cause. Some measures people can take is to ensure good oral hygiene by brushing their teeth, cleaning their tongue, using mouthwash, and flossing.
There has been some evidence that people should use mouthwash that contains cetylpyridinium chloride or chlorhexidine. The treatment of an underlying disease such as tooth decay, gum disease, and gastroesophageal reflux disease can also be beneficial. Counselling may aid those with non-genuine bad breath. It has been estimated that bad breath occurs in 6 to 50 percent of the population. It is the third most common reason why dental care is sought out. Those with bad breath may be stigmatized as it is viewed as a social taboo. In the United States, it is estimated that about $1 billion is spent annually to treat this condition.
Bad Breath Cause #1: Biofilm
Biofilm is the most common cause of halitosis. It is a thick and sticky coat that covers the tongue, gums, and teeth. It can be whitish, yellowish, or tan-colored. Biofilm is made up of food debris, bacteria, sugars, dead cells, proteins, and digestible bacterial matter. It acts as a barrier for bacteria as it lacks oxygen and contains all the things needed for bacteria to flourish.
Odor producing biofilm is usually found at the back of the tongue, in the pockets between the gums and teeth, and below the gum line. The odors from biofilms are produced when proteins breakdown into individual amino acids. These amino acids then breakdown further to produce odors.