Bad breath can be avoided

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Back to fresh breath

Bad breath (medical halitosis) is a relatively widespread symptom that many sufferers themselves hardly notice. Only in the reactions in their environment they may find that they suffer from an unpleasant smell of breath. Chronic bad breath is often based on poor oral hygiene, but inflammation in the mouth and throat or respiratory diseases and systemic diseases can also cause the symptoms.

Dental professionals from the German Society for Dental, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and the German Society for Periodontology (DGParo) in Regensburg (DGZMK) have published in a recent article the "What causes the unpleasant bad breath and how it can best be avoided?" Rheinische Post ”summarized. Here it becomes clear that intensive oral hygiene can provide significant relief in most cases, but does not always promise success. When determining the bad breath, it does little to help those affected "to breathe in their hands and smell them because the nose gets used to their own smell," explains Sebastian Michaelis from DGZMK. The expert therefore asked trusted family members and friends of those affected to "respond to their bad breath, even if it makes them uncomfortable."

Causes of bad breath
Most of the patients find the causes of bad breath in the oral cavity, explained Kai Worch from DGParo in Regensburg. According to the specialist, "bacteria can build up on the large, rough surface of the tongue with its numerous depressions, which do not need oxygen to live." The bacterial decomposition of food residues then produces gases that are released with the air we breathe. "As part of their metabolism, the bacteria produce volatile sulfur compounds, which then lead to the unpleasant smell," explained Worch. The bacteria are not only found on the tongue, but also in the interdental spaces, under poorly fitting crowns and on insufficiently cleaned prostheses. Other triggers of bad breath, such as an incomplete stomach or systemic diseases, are negligible causes compared to bacterial colonization in the mouth.

Bad breath after getting up is normal
Bad breath can be quite normal on various occasions, such as after eating garlic. This also applies to morning bad breath after getting up, which dentist Aviva Grinfeld says to the "Rheinische Post" because "you produce less saliva when you sleep and your mouth is simply drier." The distinction between normal and pathological bad breath is According to Sebastian Michaelis "purely due to the cause and generally not tied to a specific food intake." In many cases, those affected also show a clearly visible coating on the tongue and this no longer appears in its original pinkish-red color. A daily tongue cleaning can usually bring about a significant improvement. However, it is "important that the tongue is carefully cleaned and not injured, otherwise bacteria can get into the blood," emphasized Michaelis. The expert therefore advises not to clean the so-called papillae (small, sensitive bumps in the third of the tongue).

Tongue cleaning tips
According to the dentist Aviva Grinfeld, a recommended technique for tongue cleaning is to first stick out your tongue and pull it down across the front at the tip. Apply a neutralizing zinc gel against bad breath to the nubbed side of the tongue cleaner and slowly spread it forward from the highest point of the tongue, which can be seen. The gel can then be removed with the other side of the tongue cleaner. Toothbrushes are rather unsuitable for this procedure, since they often trigger a gag reflex. Instead, Grinfeld recommends special tongue cleaners with flat bristles. According to the experts, daily tongue cleaning already causes a significant reduction in bad breath in most of those affected. Mouthwash solutions, such as those used by many people in the context of morning dental hygiene, are, however, not recommended without restriction. Their use must be discussed with the dentist and should be limited in time. Other supposed remedies for bad breath, such as chewing gum or menthol candy, cover the smell, but cannot correct the bacterial colonization and thus the cause of the bad breath. According to the experts, chewing gum may even be counterproductive, since chewing gum can increase the pH in the mouth to such an extent that the unfavorable sulfur compounds are formed. (fp)

Image: Thommy Weiss /

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