The Pains of Halitosis

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Mouth odour or bad breath is a very embarrassing condition that leaves the person concerned often dejected because he or she feels they have failed somehow and have allowed themselves to be the point of bad attraction. Unfortunately, many people have failed to realise the fact that their actions and lifestyle choices also determine the state of their oral health, which is the bedrock  of the development of mouth odour (halitosis) or otherwise.

The specific odour or breath can vary, depending on the cause of the problem. It is always good to seek the counsel of close associates or relations when confronted with this unpleasant  reality. One can quietly gauge his or her mouth odour by licking one’s wrist and then smelling it dry. A bad smell from that part of the wrist is likely to suggest that you have halitosis.

Mr Patrick Iwelummor

On the other hand, there are people who pay extreme attention to their breath; they are usually concerned about their breath, even though they may have little or no mouth odour. This condition is called halitophobia and can lead to an uncontrolled obsession with mouth-cleansing.

Habits like smoking, eating too much carbohydrate, fasting and medication can actually cause the mouth to emit an offensive odour. The breakdown of food particles stuck in the teeth can also cause odours. Some foods and vegetables, such as onions and garlic, can also cause bad breath. After they are digested, their breakdown products are carried in the blood to the lungs where they can affect the breath. Notwithstanding, bad breath, caused by things like garlic and ginger, is not as offensive as that caused by factors such as  an underlying illness or bowel obstruction.

For instance, people who form the habit of swallowing large chunks of meat, which the teeth cannot grind, are prone to having very offensive mouth odour. This is because the meat ends up causing digestive difficulties and eventually putrefies gradually in the stomach. That process of putrefaction leads to bad breath emanating from decaying matter in the stomach. The scenario is akin to a decomposing carcass in an environment; it will naturally generate bad odour. It is therefore pertinent to note here that healthy eating habitis are some of the factors that can help check the development of mouth odour or bad breath.

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There are many things a person can do to eliminate mouth odour or reduce its pungency. Bacteria, food, and dead cells commonly build up on the tongue, especially in smokers or those with a particularly dry mouth. A tongue scraper can sometimes be useful.

Regular brushing of the mouth (teeth and tongue) can also help keep the mouth free from bad odour. Keeping the mouth hydrated by drinking plenty of water can also help. In Africa, there are certain fruits, vegetables and nuts that have shown the capacity to help with oral hygiene. These include bitter kola, scent leaf, cherries and parsley. Although more research is ongoing regarding the efficacy of these plants in the management of mouth odour, the fact that they have shown considerable promise cannot be overemphasised.

On the social pedestal, the harm halitosis does to a person is immense and almost irreparable. You can imagine talking to a congregation of people and then, they begin to cover their nostrils. It is traumatic to have such an experience, as it reduces one’s sense of self-worth.

Anything that is unpleasant to the nose will surely attract different forms of repulsion in terms of social interaction. No one would like to sit next to a person whose mouth smells like faeces and no client would want to associate with such a person in business.

Moreover, oral hygiene tells a lot about a person’s sense of responsibility and serious-mindedness or otherwise. It is commonsensical that anyone who is careless with his or her oral hygiene would definitely be careless with many others issues of life.

It is therefore very important that we strictly take care of our oral health. This is especially important for people whose work involves person-to-person interaction. Salespeople, marketers, motivational speakers, pastors, imams, teachers, and the likes belong here.

There would be absolutely nothing motivating in the speech of a motivational speaker whose mouth odour is as offensive as the smell of faeces. There is equally no sense of leadership in a leader whose mouth odour is next to a calamity.

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The state of our oral health speaks volumes about our real personalities. We must keep it optimally sound at all times.

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