By Dr Deepti Rao Melkote
In our day-to-day activities, social interactions play a vital role. A good shining smile plays a key role in showcasing one’s personality! Often, a warm smile, clean teeth and fresh breath have been considered crucial for setting the first impression and exudes confidence and youthfulness. Hence it wouldn’t be wrong to say that working on making one’s smile charming, can give you the extra edge that you are looking for!
Though most dental problems are preventable, there are 9 common dental problems that one can commonly face viz: bad breath, tooth cavities, gum problems, ulcers, tooth erosion, tooth sensitivity, fractured teeth, unattractive smiles and oral cancer.
Let us take the commonest of all these problems first- Bad Breath!
Bad breath or Halitosis is the greatest hitch during social interactions or intimate moments.
Almost everyone suffers from bad breath during various times of the day. Also, one develops tolerance to one’s own breath smell, making it even more difficult to recognize if one is suffering from it! This can make it difficult for even your family members and friends to point it out to you. Just like body odour, bad breath can completely put off people or upset relationships!
Bad breath can be broadly divided into 2 causes:
- Oral/Dental causes &- Non-dental Causes.
In 90% of cases, bad breath is caused by oral causes. We have hundreds of different kinds of bacteria in our mouth and these populations thrive in our mouth as it’s a wet and warm place. The spaces between the teeth, gums and tongue are places where bacteria can flourish on remaining food debris in the mouth, leading to plaque. Thus cavities, dental infections/abcesses/pus or gum inflammation/gingivitis/periodontitis can lead to foul odour due to the rotting of food debris and its breakdown by these bacteria. It can also be caused by eating certain foods with pungent smells like garlic or onions or foods which take extremely long to digest.
Also, saliva in our mouth helps to wash away the food and keeps the oral tissues soft and nourished. In the case of medications that reduce the secretion of saliva( eg: anti-depressants, antihypertensives (blood pressure), anti-Psychotics, diuretics (kidney problems), bad breath can occur.
In case of medical conditions like diabetes, a different kind of foul odour is present due to the excess sugar fermentation by the bacteria.
Non-dental causes include Stomach related issues like lethargic digestive symptoms, frequent acidity or acid reflux problems leading to frequent burping and giving the taste and smell of food in the mouth. ENT related problems like throat infections, ear infections, tonsillitis can also lead to bad breath. Respiratory problems like bronchitis or lung infections, liver, kidney and blood disorders can also lead to halitosis.
The newest type of bad breath is occurring due to continuous wearing of masks during the pandemic leading to ‘Mask Mouth’. It is the side-effect of wearing a mask for extended periods of time. It includes dry mouth, bad breath, and bleeding gums. It happens due to dehydration, disrupted breathing patterns, recycling air as more carbon dioxide is trapped in your mouth than usual.
The tips and measures to prevent these are the same:
* The author is an MDS (Endodontics) and a root canal specialist and cosmetic dentist