Bad breath is not contagious and you cannot catch it from someone
else. Also, chronic bad breath (Halitosis) does not come
from the stomach. The only stomach odor that someone smells
occurs when you burp. Certain foods like garlic and spicy foods
once absorbed into the body can release odor through the lungs
when you breathe. This food odor is transitory and should not
be confused with bad breath. Air flow though the nose of someone
with bad breath does not have an offensive odor, only air flow
through the mouth. Because our sense of smell has the ability
to adjust to odor most people with halitosis are not aware of
their bad breath.
Nearly all bad breath originates from the mouth, mostly
from the surface of the tongue, below the gum line, between
the teeth and other hard to reach areas. The mouth is normally
inhabited by bacteria and the balance between the different
kinds of bacteria determines the quality of your breath. The
odor causing bacteria are anaerobic which means they cannot
live in the presence of oxygen. These anaerobic bacteria inhabit
the surface of the tongue by residing between the papillae of
the tongue which is oxygen deficient i.e. they live "within"
the tongue. These bacteria cannot be removed completely with
a tongue scraper and will recolonize the mouth following antibody
therapy. These naturally occurring bacteria feed on proteins
(oral debris) and produce volatile sulfur compounds (VSC)
as a by-product of metabolism causing the malodor of bad breath.
Everyone has some level of VSC in their mouth, but it is at
a low level that cannot be detected by the nose. When these
levels of VSC gets high it becomes detectable as bad breath.
Halitosis is rarely associated with certain medical conditions
- e.g.: diabetes. If the onset is sudden, grows noticeably worse
over a short period of time and is associated with fever, see
Q: What causes Bad Breath Odor (Excessive Volatile Sulfur
Anything that decreases the flow of saliva or stimulates the
growth of anaerobic bacteria.
Saliva irrigates the mouth, stimulates swallowing thereby
flushing away debris. Morning breath occurs due to decreased
salivary flow during sleep. As saliva contains oxygen,
the dryer your mouth and the thicker your saliva, the
less the washing action and the lower the oxygen level creating
a more anaerobic environment for bacteria to produce sulfur
compounds. This oral stagnation is more pronounced in mouth
breathers and those who snore. Alcohol and even
certain mouthwashes containing alcohol can dry the oral
tissues causing bacteria to profilerate. Certain medications
for high blood pressure, antihistamines and depression can decrease
saliva flow. Dehydration and stress also reduces
the flow of saliva.
These anaerobic bacteria breakdown proteins as the start
to digestion, and produce these sulfur compounds as a by-product.
These proteins come from oral cellular debris (poor oral
hygiene), dead bacteria, saliva, food debris, mucous, post nasal
drip and phlegm. Certain conditions cause these bacteria to
produce these VSC at an unusually rapid rate. Types of foods
may include dairy products especially if you are lactose intolerant
and certain foods high in protein. Numerous antibiotics
or sulfa-drugs upset the balance of bacterial flora causing
some to proliferate and others to perish. An important factor
in bacterial growth is the pH of the mouth. Bacteria
reproduce faster in a more acid environment. Coffee and acidic
foods increase acidity. Hormonal changes have even been
implicated with bad breath. During menstruation, estrogen causes
sloughing of body lining tissue including that of the mouth.
This gives additional nutrition for anaerobic bacteria. Then
their is the luck of the draw....your genetics. We all
have a different tongue morphology. The more fissured the tongue,
the greater the anaerobic environment and the higher the level