One of the things that can steal a person’s confidence is halitosis popularly known as mouth odour. A dentist, Dr Olajuwon Jolaoso, speaking with The Punch talks about mouth odour, causes and its treatment.
How would you define mouth odour?
In a layman’s term, it is a situation where there is an unpleasant smell from the inner part of the oral cavity; something like a bad breath. When a person opens his or her mouth and there is an unpleasant smell from the mouth, it simply means the person has a mouth odour.
Do bad breath and mouth odour mean the same thing?
The two terms are usually used interchangeably. Mouth odour is halitosis, bad breath could be something that comes from a social perspective. It is people who came up with the term ‘bad breathe’. But we all know that we don’t breathe with our nose.
What causes mouth odour?
A number of things can be attributed to the cause of mouth odour. It could be local or systemic. If it is local, it means the cause is within the mouth but if it is systemic, it actually arises as a result of some internal problems.
Also, people have mouth odour as a result of not brushing regularly or not brushing effectively. Some people just brush their teeth and leave their tongue. Some people don’t brush the corners of their mouth. And those are some of the key locations that should be taken care of else they will have a mouth odour.
Some have wounds in their mouth, maybe as a result of surgery or other things. If people don’t clean their mouths properly, they will have a mouth odour. There are people who have gum diseases and could also have a mouth odour.
Beyond that, it can be systemic like I said; that is coming from the gastro intestines like a kidney or liver diseases which may affect the breath and the odour can come from the nose or mouth.
One major way to diagnose if the odour is from the mouth or inside is that if is it from the inside, it comes out through the nostrils.
Another thing that causes it is what people eat. When people eat things like garlic, onions and some high-protein diet, they cause mouth odour. When the microorganisms in the mouth break it down, it produces particles that we call a volatile sulfur compound. It is the particles that give bad odour.
Why does the mouth smell in the morning?
When people are asleep, the saliva in the mouth is reduced. The production of saliva in the mouth is active when we are awake. The function of the saliva in the mouth is that it cleanses the mouth. It can be likened to a running tap, and it is produced often, so it continuously washes the mouth so there are no spaces for particles to remain in the mouth.
That is why you see that when people are fasting or when they don’t talk and the rest, there is a decrease in the production of saliva. As the mouth is less active, it tends to smell at that point.
What is the relationship between catarrh and mouth odour?
There is a link between the mouth and the nose. The catarrh is like an accumulation of mucus that links to the back of one’s mouth. It’s like there is a kind of dripping of the mucus at the back of the mouth and that is what produces the smell.
How effective is mouth wash in fighting mouth odour?
Mouth wash is like an adjunct. It is supposed to be an addition to the things eroding causes of mouth odour. The root cause of the problem should be identified then one adds the use of mouth wash to it. The mouth wash is like booster like the way sugarless chewing gum is.
It’s just that some people do not like to use mouth wash because of some of the ingredients used in making it like alcohol, sulfur and others. It is healthy but it can’t be used as a solution for curing mouth odour.
How is mouth odour treated?
Like I said, to tackle the problem, one has to know what the problem is. For example, if a person doesn’t know mouth brushing techniques, the person needs to be taught. I don’t know where people got the back and forth sharp-sharp method. Some people don’t brush their tongues; so, you see that their tongue is green or dark.
For people who eat some food that give them a funny smell, they should avoid it. Those who have gum wounds, they need to check if the wounds have an infection and if they do, they ought to treat it.
In some cases, some people do not have mouth odour but think they do. That is a psychological problem and one only needs to provide them with psychological therapy. Just give them a particular mouth cleanser for a while.
Does smoking and alcohol consumption have a link with mouth odour?
There is a dehydration effect that alcohol has on the body which in turns affects saliva production. Once the alcohol drains the water in the body, it reduces the amount of saliva in the mouth. If it is reduced, it produces a kind of smell in the mouth. Once a person takes alcohol, it gives the mouth a kind of an odour.
If a person smokes too, it shoots the blood supply to the mouth and the gums. This, in turn, drains them of what they should be getting. The microorganisms in the mouth are modified and the mouth is denied the nutrients that it should get. With that, the mouth produces a bad breathe.
Also, most people who smoke cannot maintain good hygiene. This is because when they smoke, the smoke stains the teeth and when they eat, the food sticks to the teeth and once it does that, the microorganisms feed on the teeth and the chain reaction will be mouth odour.
Is there any relationship between stained teeth and mouth odour?
Once a person doesn’t take care of his or her mouth regularly, the teeth begin to colour. The teeth start to get creamy and before long, it will lead to mouth odour. It can be caused by internal or external factors. If it is internal, it will not smell and if is external, it will smell.
Is it possible for a person to have permanent mouth odour?
I am not sure a person can have mouth odour permanently. There is no stage a person cannot get mouth odour treated. It can only remain there if affected persons refuse to get treatment
What is your advice to people on oral health?
People should pay more attention to oral health. There is1` a high level of negligence when it comes to the aspect of hygiene. People do not even know that oral health is part of HMO. Basically, there is a need to increase the level of awareness of oral health among Nigerians.