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Bad breath often shows signs of serious illnesses
Bad breath should not be underestimated as a sign of possible health problems. In the case of unpleasant smelling breath, which was not caused by the consumption of garlic or onions and which may occur chronically, a visit to the doctor or a visit to an alternative practitioner is urgently recommended.
Bad breath is often the result of diseases in the mouth and throat. Problems in the ear, nose and throat area as well as problems with the digestive tract can also cause unpleasant smelling breath. Bad breath should therefore not be ignored as a sign of possible health complaints or simply drowned out with chewing gum and fresh breath sweets, experts like Professor Christoph Benz, President of the Bavarian State Dental Association in Munich, warn the news agency "dpa".
If you suffer from bad breath, you should urgently see a dentist, as various studies show that the causes of bad breath are "86 percent in the oral cavity", explained the Berlin dentist Sigrid Weigel. Those affected should not be afraid to talk to their doctor about the topic, since the unpleasant smelling air can be a sign of serious illnesses. The smell is caused by sulfur compounds, which are by no means safe as toxins, explained Professor Benz. Well-known people with bad breath should also point this out in their personal surroundings, since the people affected often do not register the smell at all due to the habituation effect, the expert explained. "This habituation to smells is actually a grace of nature", but contributes to the fact that one's own body odors are not perceived because they are always present, Prof. Benz told the news agency "dpa".
Recognizing bad breath diseases Duisburg otolaryngologist, Udo Walter, emphasized that people with bad breath often find it difficult to talk to someone about their problems. "Bad breath is still a taboo subject to the doctor," said the ENT doctor. For example, patients would often first visit his practice because of other complaints and then come to detours about their problems with bad breath. According to Udo Walter, the specialist can already tell from the smell of the breath where the health problems that cause the bad breath lie. According to the otolaryngologist, if there are problems in the oral cavity, a bad, intense smell occurs, while diseases of the tonsils or nose result in a more subtle bad breath. If difficulties with the digestive tract or stomach form the cause of bad breath, breathing smells massive like putrefaction and in tumors the smell of rotten meat can often be perceived, explained Walter.
Cause of bad breath mostly in the oral cavity In most cases, diseases in the oral cavity are the cause of the unpleasant smelling breath, whereby according to the experts, inflammation of the mucous membranes or gums can be responsible for bad breath as well as a rotting tooth, poorly cared-for prostheses or abscesses that have formed. If the teeth are well cared for, bad breath is rare. But for every twelfth person affected, the cause is not in the oral hygiene but in the ear, nose and throat area. Purulent bronchitis, pneumonia or tonsillitis can also cause an unpleasant smelling breath. However, since most of the bad breath problems are due to diseases in the oral cavity and can be significantly influenced by compliance with oral hygiene, the experts see one of the key factors in preventing bad breath.
Oral hygiene to avoid bad breath For good reason dentists recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day. In addition, the use of dental floss can significantly reduce bad breath, Sigrid Weigel explained. In addition, the experts regularly advise professional dental cleaning to be carried out in the dental practice. Finally, according to Professor Benz, the tongue should also be cleaned once a day for about 10 to 15 seconds to minimize bad breath. This is particularly important because "you have to imagine the tongue as a pile carpet in which the bacteria sit," said the President of the Bavarian Chamber of Dentists in Munich. As an immediate measure, according to the experts, chewing chewing gum, for example, is well suited because it stimulates the flow of saliva and thus strengthens the natural defense against bacteria. Mouthwash can also help against bad breath in the short term, but in the long term neither chewing gums nor mouthwashes are suitable for eliminating the smelling breath - rather, the causes of the unpleasant smelling breath should be eliminated. The permanent use of chewing gum and other breath freshening agents “would be like spraying Sagrotan into a stinking refrigerator. You'd better clean it up, ”emphasized Professor Benz.
Imaginary bad breath The number of patients suffering from bad breath in Germany is not known. However, there are also some people who are only personally convinced that they have bad breath, even though their fellow human beings cannot perceive an unpleasant smelling breath and the "halimeter proves the opposite," explained Professor Benz. With the halimeter, doctors can measure the sulfur gases in the air they breathe and thus objectively determine whether the patient is suffering from bad breath. Such illusions of bad breath are "not so rare", whereby in these cases it is recommended that a therapist be consulted for the psyche, Benz emphasized. (fp)
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Picture: Gerd Altmann