Causes of bad breath and treatment options

KOREA - A Seoul National University professor disclosed the causes of and preventative measures for halitosis, as a survey suggested that 30 per cent of Koreans suffer from bad breath.

Prof. Park Hee-kyung from the university's dental hospital introduced a method for self-evaluating one's breath in the morning. First, exhale in a paper cup and smell the breath. Second, wash your hands, lick the back of your hand and smell it.

If it smells bad, it is mainly due to poor oral health and medical conditions, professor Park said.

Dental issues -- wisdom teeth, cavities, cracked fillings and improper cleaning of dentures -- can lead to the buildup of odour-causing bacteria in your mouth, resulting in halitosis.

Alarmingly, bad breath is also a sign of poor medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney and liver disease, lung and sinus infections, and bronchitis.

The key to beating bad breath is to keep your mouth clean by brushing your teeth and, more importantly, brushing your entire tongue. This was found to reduce bad breath by 70 per cent.

Also, drinking sufficient amounts of water and chewing sugarless gum can help increase the flow of saliva, which is essential for washing odour-producing particles free.

Surprisingly, the overuse of mouthwash, which has been highly recommended for eliminating bad breath, might aggravate the condition because the alcohol in the product, sometimes accounting for as much as 27 per cent of the total ingredients, can dry out the mouth, leaving it smellier.