How do I tell my new boss in a nice way that he has mouth odour? I think he has tooth decay. Several people have suggested I buy a year’s supply sugar-free gums as a gift for him and I was considering this until the coronavirus pandemic struck. Now, I pity him because he has to wear a face mask constantly. He asked me to write an article and has given me the liberty to choose my topic. Perfect!!!
Studies have shown that 50% of adults have had mouth odour at one point in their lives and about 35% of Nigerians have mouth odour. Also known as Halitosis, Fetor oris, oral malodor or bad breath, it describes any unpleasant odour proceeding from the mouth air or breath. It can result in loss of confidence and anxiety in an affected person.
It can be caused by several factors although 90% is from issues arising from the mouth which may be; poor oral hygiene, dry mouth as a result of reduced saliva production, gum diseases or presence of halitosis-causing bacteria on the tongue. Eating some foods with a pungent smell like garlic or raw onions and use of tobacco and other underlying medical conditions like Gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), postnasal drips, diabetic ketoacidosis and lung infections have also been implicated.
Morning breath is a type of mouth odour experienced as soon as a person wakes up in the morning but it usually disappears after drinking water or eating breakfast. Proper identification of the root cause of the odour will facilitate the treatment choice.
Tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities is one of the most prevalent non-communicable diseases in the world. Tooth decay can give halitosis-causing bacteria space to fester, causing mouth odour.
When food is taken into the mouth, it is chewed with the teeth and mixed with saliva. The saliva contains salivary amylase which is an enzyme that starts the process of digestion of sugars and starch in food. Starch which is contained in large quantities in many staple foods like rice, maize, yam, cassava and potatoes is broken down into glucose.
Particles of food and debris remain on the surface of the teeth. Bacteria in the mouth use these sugars as their energy source and in the process, the produce acids which destroy the hard tissues of the teeth. If the breakdown of the minerals in the teeth is more than the buildup, it results in tooth decay.
Saliva serves as a lubricant in the mouth and contains fluoride necessary for remineralization. Risk factors for tooth decay include irregular and poor cleaning of teeth, eating foods high in sugars and low levels of fluoride. Symptoms of tooth decay include pain, tooth sensitivity, yellow or grey spot on the teeth, bad breath and an unpleasant taste in the teeth.
Treatment involves increasing fluoride use at the early stage, restoration with various materials, Use of teeth crowns, canals and extraction of teeth.
To promote oral hygiene and avoid tooth decay and mouth odour, it is recommended thus:
- Maintain good oral hygiene:
*It is recommended that you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste every morning after breakfast and at night, just before bed to remove plaque and debris. Brushing should be done for at least 2 minutes per time using soft bristle toothbrush which will not injure the gums.
Brush the inner and outer surface of the teeth in up and down, back and forth motions and the tongue in a back to front motion to ensure all debris coats is removed. Store toothbrush in an upright position after use and change the brush or brush-head after every 3-4 months or if the bristles are worn
*Fluoride can be gotten from Water, salt and toothpaste. Water fluoridation involves adjusting the fluoride content of Public water sources to prevent dental caries. Fluoride inhibits demineralization and promotes the process of remineralization
*Flossing after each meal is also necessary to reduce the accumulation of debris around the teeth. Toothpicks are also used for removal of debris around the teeth but they can cause injury to the gum and damage to the teeth enamel hence its best to use them only when there is no alternative.
- Stay hydrated: Dehydration leads to a decrease in saliva production causing dry mouth which is a predisposing factor for tooth decay and mouth odour. It is therefore recommended that regularly drinking water is necessary for general and oral health
- Eat food low in sugar. Processed food should be avoided instead, a balanced diet rich in fruits and leafy green vegetables are better for oral health.