September marks Oral Health Month in Mzansi, a month earmarked to create awareness on the importance of good dental hygiene practices. And in episode six of Sisters Without Shame, Eastern Cape dentist and farmer, Dr Pieter Prinsloo, dispenses some truths about bad breath.
Sisters Without Shame received an emergency SMS from a friend in crisis in Ermelo. She says that she has been struggling with chronic bad breath and this is causing a bit of a rift between her and her partner.
Dentist and farmer Dr Pieter Prinsloo suspects a multitude of reasons that could be indicative of a dental issue or something deeper.
Symptoms and causes
Symptoms of bad breath include an unpleasant odour or taste in the mouth, dry mouth or white coating on the tongue.
Regarding causes, Prinsloo explains, “A common cause of bad breath is dental issues. Mouth, nose and throat infections are also a cause. Dry mouth and smoking tobacco can also cause bad breath, or chronic conditions [such as] gastric reflux, diabetes or liver or kidney disease.”
He also suspects that gingivitis could be a trigger. “The most common thing I see in my surgery is that, usually, it is associated with bad gingivitis – a mouth infection and not necessarily bad teeth, but bad gums. The common bacteria that infects it and gives off that smell is called an anaerobic bacteria – a bacterium that can exist without oxygen.”
A worst-case scenario of gingivitis is periodontitis. “When gingivitis gets bad, it is called periodontitis, which is an infection of the whole surrounding tissue of the bone. That eventually leads to teeth loosening up and you can lose teeth.”
Is bad breath related to gut health?
Prinsloo says that most people cannot imagine that bad breath could also be related to gut health, but it is.
“It causes a lot of issues – also with bad breath. We don’t think it [is], but it is there,” he says.
“I would suggest our friend visit a dentist just to find the source of [her bad breath].” If dental issues are eliminated, the patient can be put on a regime of probiotics. “You can see very easily if a person has an over-presence of fungus in the mouth. All that Probiflora (the probiotic) does, is that it restores the normal bacteria; the good bacteria.”
Tune in to the Sisters Without Shame podcast to listen to Prinsloo’s full conversation.
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