What is Halitosis?

What is Halitosis?

Read about Halitosis presented in simple easy to understand language

A person suffering from bad breath is said to have 'halitosis'. It is derived from the Latin word “habitus” which means breath, and “osis” meaning any abnormal state or disorder.

Causing much social embarrassment for the person suffering from it as well as to all the people in his or her vicinity, it is a problem which should be addressed immediately and with diligence. In most cases, the person suffering might be unaware of the problem till it is brought to his or her notice by a good wisher. If you are not sure about your breath, don’t wait until you are embarrassed by the reactions of the people around you. There are a couple of sure-fire ways of ascertaining your breath status which does not involve a visit to the dentist:

The Easy Ask Ask a loved one or a good friend for an honest opinion if you are not someone who is easily embarrassed or offended. Your most honest answer is likely to come from asking a child.

The Palm Test Cup your palm in front of your face. Close to, but not touching, your mouth and nose. Blow into your palm and take a whiff of what bounces off your palm. That'll be a fair indication of what your breath smells like to others.

The Lick and spoon Test Lick your wrist, let it somewhat dry and smell it. That’s what the front of your tongue smells like. To get a more accurate gauge of the degree of your bad breath, use an inverted spoon to scrape the back of your mouth, take it out and smell the whitish residue, it is more accurately what your breath smells like to others.

While good oral hygiene is an essential part of routine care, it might not be enough in itself as there could be many other underlying factors causing halitosis.

In most cases, bad breath is caused by anaerobic bacteria breaking down protein at a very high rate and creating halitosis compounds which are called VSC’s or Volatile Sulfur Compounds scientifically. The ideal environment for anaerobic bacteria is an environment with high acidity and reduced oxygen. The smell of the Volatile Sulfur Compounds (VSC’s) is often referred to as a “rotten egg” smell which is the most commonly bad breath smell. There are other unpleasant odors caused by other bacterial wastes in the mouth, some these are:

  • Cadaverine smells like a corpse.
  • Putrescine smells like decaying meat.
  • Skatole smell of human feces.
  • Isovaleric Acid smell of sweaty feet.

Some levels of these smelly compounds are present in everyone’s breath. Halitosis or bad breath occurs when the levels of any of these compounds are elevated.

Every underlying cause of halitosis has not currently been well researched or understood as a treatable condition by the dental community. A holistic approach to the condition is being increasingly sought after by many keeping in mind the overall health of the body. Addressing your bad breath problem and starting an effective treatment plan will take you closer to increased confidence and self-esteem and social stress reduction.

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