Bad breath – it can severely impact our self-confidence and comfort in social situations, so it’s something many of us are very conscious of.
While it’s common for people to try to cover the smell with mints and mouth sprays, the odour could actually be symptomatic of poor dental hygiene or a more serious health concern.
If bad breath is something that you face regularly, it might be time to start taking your oral health more seriously.
What is the cause of my bad breath?
1. A poor lifestyle and diet
Research has shown that alcohol consumption, cigarettes and poor dietary choices can affect the odour-producing compounds in your body and irritate your gums.
Foods like onion, garlic and radishes can be culprits that leave a lingering smell as they break down in your mouth. No matter how much mouthwash you use, the odour will not disappear until the foods have passed through your body completely.
2. Odour-causing bacteria resulting from bad oral hygiene
If you don’t brush and floss your teeth daily, food particles will remain in your mouth which will then promote the growth of sulphur-producing bacteria in your teeth, gums and on your tongue. These bacteria can start to break down proteins at a high rate and release odorous volatile sulphur compounds that cause bad breath (this is called halitosis).
Good hygiene is an important part of anyone’s health and wellbeing, and particularly important for people who have dentures or braces that require a more comprehensive level of cleaning to get into the difficult areas.
Mouth dryness can also cause the perfect environment for bacteria. This is why many of us experience bad breath in the morning when the mouth has had a lack of saliva overnight.
3. Disease in the body
While this is relatively less common compared to bacteria in the mouth, bad breath can be symptomatic of a more serious disease in your body. Experts have linked bad breath to diseases like diabetes, respiratory tract infections, chronic reflux, lung problems, tonsillitis, sinus infections, liver disease and stomach or digestion problems.
How can I fix my bad breath?
Treating your bad breath will come down to the underlying cause of the odour. If the cause is based in the mouth only, practicing good dental hygiene and visiting a dentist regularly will help treat bad breath.
Avoiding dehydration, brushing and flossing regularly and thoroughly cleaning the tongue using a brush or scraper will remove food scraps and bacteria in the mouth. Rinse your mouth with an mouthwash twice a day, replace your toothbrush every 2-3 months or when bristles show wear, or after illness and clean braces and dentures thoroughly. You can read our tips on the best routine for good dental hygiene by clicking here.
See your dentist regularly so he/she can conduct an oral exam and professional teeth cleaning.
Where can I get help for my bad breath?
In most cases, your dentist can treat the cause of your bad breath through regular check-ups and professional cleaning. A dentist will discuss the health of your teeth and supporting structures, develop a treatment plan specific to your symptoms and needs and provide advice on oral hygiene techniques to improve overall oral health and to ensure you are cleaning your teeth properly. If your bad breath is linked to gum disease, your dentist will create a plan to treat it.
If your dentist determines that the odour is not caused only by oral hygiene and based only in the mouth, he/she may refer you to your family doctor or a specialist for testing and to determine a treatment plan.
Not all causes of bad breath are dental. it may be from other causes such as sinus or the Gastrointestinal Tract (reflux etc.). Your dentist can help eliminate dental causes like poor oral hygiene, gum disease or tooth infection at your regular check up.