bout a third of the world's population suffers from chronic bad breath. Although this issue is rarely discussed, it is important to understand the reasons behind it if we are to combat it effectively.
In general terms, we differentiate between local and systemic causes of bad breath. In about 90% of cases the cause can be found locally in the mouth and throat area. Triggers can include bacterial deposits on the tongue, inflammation of the gums, periodontitis, tooth decay, inadequate saliva flow, local infections and inadequate oral hygiene. Bad breath stemming from systemic factors is much less common. Here it can be caused by disorders of the intestinal flora, medicines containing sulfur, and illnesses such as kidney failure, diabetes or sinusitis.
Nutrition is another important factor. Diets which exclude carbohydrates often lead to bad breath. This occurs initially as a result of metabolic readjustment (ketosis). In addition, a protein-rich diet leads to an increased incidence of sulfur-producing bacteria in the throat.
The best way to combat bad breath is good oral hygiene. It is important that you brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes. As part of this process you should also clean your tongue because odour-causing bacteria can accumulate there, particularly towards the back. You don't need any special equipment for this; you can simply use your toothbrush. You should also floss daily to remove particles of food from between your teeth.
If you find that you still suffer from bad breath despite practising good oral hygiene and following the tips above, you should consult a dentist.