The ninth edition of oral health myths and realities.
Oral malodour is not today’s problem. Several studies have been done in Tanzania in an effort to address such a problem.
People are out there with the problem but have no idea about it and therefore don’t really turn up for treatment, instead become victims of stigma.
This week I have highlighted on this issue of bad breath, also known as halitosis and its associated fables. Here’s the ninth edition of oral health myths and realities.
Myth 1: An individual can tell if she/he has bad breath or halitosis.
People cannot tell whether their breath smell or not. In fact, 95 per cent of the people have no idea about it.
Myth 2: Bad breath comes from the stomach.
Not true. Normally, there are a series of valves that block the regurgitation of our food. These valves also block any stomach smells or odours from going back up the oesophagus, throat and back into the mouth. Only in rare cases of certain illnesses can this occur.
Myth 3: Bad breath or halitosis is only caused by an individual not brushing the teeth correctly.
Most of bad breath (halitosis) cases (up to 90 per cent) are caused by bad oral hygiene.
Regular brushing, flossing, eating and drinking healthily as well as taking plenty of exercises are the best ways to keep away from bad breath. However, in some cases of certain systemic illnesses may cause bad breath.
Myth 4: If an individual brushes or scrapes the tongue, bad breaths will disappear.
Scraping the tongue only removes the top layer of a deep accumulation of bacteria, dead skin cells, dead blood cells, food, and debris which make up the cause of the odour of bad breath.
Myth 5: Bad breath is caused by the foods and what individual eats.
While it is true that some foods like coffee, fish, onions and garlic, just to mention a few, will pollute one’s breath, they are not responsible for the occurrence of bad breath (halitosis). The foods give a short term bad breath which goes away quite quickly.
Myth 6: There is no cure for bad breath.
There is a total cure for bad breath (halitosis).
Myth 7: Mouthwashes, mints, and gums can keep an individual’s breath smell-free.
Most of the mouthwash, mint and gum products simply cover-up the bad breath (halitosis) with stronger and more pleasant smelling odour temporarily.
Myth 8: Better oral hygiene will solve the breath problem.
To an extent, that is true, particularly when there is gingivitis or gum disease present. However, oral hygiene will not solve more complex systemic causes for bad breath.
Myth 9: Brushing your teeth after breakfast gets rid of breakfast breath.
Cleaning the teeth after breakfast does not help bad breath (halitosis). Breakfast foods like fruits and fruit juices are acidic, so brushing the teeth after consuming such foods, increases the risk of abrasions and the wear of your teeth.
Myth 10: If you have good dental hygiene, you won’t have bad breath
In rare cases of certain systemic illnesses, bad breath (halitosis) may not originate from the mouth.
The author is a lecturer of Dentistry at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (Muhas).