Bad breath is one of the commonest dental conditions. Almost every one, at some point in their lives will suffer from some kind of bad breath. Bad breath can be thought of as either a normal type, an abnormal type, or a “weird” type (which we call pseudo halitosis). Normal halitosis is experienced in the morning when we wake up and it fades away relatively quickly after that. The weird type is when someone thinks they have bad breath but the dentist fails to detect it at all. The abnormal/disease related/ pathological type is the one that causes most concern.  It can be related to any of the organs below; i.e. nose, mouth, throat, chest and stomach.  Here is how!

  • Nose– Chronic nasal diseases (chronic sinusitis) and this can be a big cause of bad breath…
  • Mouth– Cavities in teeth, calculus (kaboole), gum disease, oral cancer.
  • Throat– Enlarged tonsils that trap food, throat infections, tonsil stones, etc.
  • Chest– Lung diseases such as bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, lung cancer.
  • Stomach– Acid reflux (Gastroesophageal reflux disease), ulcers
  • Others– Liver diseases, kidney diseases.
  • Habits– Smoking, drinking excessive alcohol, diets high in garlic, forgetting to floss, poor toothbrushing technique.

Take Home: the first stage in understanding how to manage bad breath is by taking note of what the possible causes are. The above list is not exhaustive, so feel free to read up some more on it.

Dr Trevor Kwagala

Dental Surgeon

The writer is the General Secretary of the Uganda Dental Association.

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