Why do I have bad breath and how do I cure it?

Perhaps you are concerned about your own bad breath (also known as halitosis) or the bad breath of your partner… Whatever the reason, having bad breath stinks! Thankfully, there are ways to treat it and to find out just what is causing the problem. It all revolves around good oral hygiene, a healthy diet and regular trips to your dentist…but we hope you already do that!

What causes bad breath?

The most common cause of bad breath is sulphur-producing bacteria build-up in the mouth, which cause inflammation and exude noxious, foul-smelling odours or gases. Other causes of bad breath include poor oral hygiene, periodontitis (gum infection or disease), smoking (prevents the mouth from getting adequate oxygen), acid and bile reflux, certain medications (which can inhibit saliva production), certain foods (you might guess which ones these are) and post-nasal discharge (often noted by people suffering from chronic sinusitis. One of the more serious causes of bad breath is gum disease or periodontitis. This is usually a result of bacteria forming in your mouth due to plaque build-up and causes toxins to develop and irritate your gums. If you think this might be the case (your gums are swollen, irritated or receding) it is important to have it checked by your dentist as soon as possible. Gum disease left untreated has been linked to more serious overall health issues, including heart disease and diabetes. Approximately 80% of all bad breath issues come from problems inside the mouth and may be able to be treated by your general dentist.

How to stop bad breath

The treatment of bad breath largely depends on what is causing it. More generally, your breath will benefit from proper oral hygiene (including brushing, flossing and using mouthwash regularly), keeping hydrated, maintaining a clean and healthy diet and regular check-up and cleans from your dentist. It is also important to remember a certain amount of bad breath is pretty much unavoidable; like after eating a cheesy-tuna toasted sandwich, or when you first wake up. It is important to recognise the difference between bad breath which is normal, and bad breath which is an indicator of something a little more problematic. If your bad breath persists, make sure you visit you, dentist, as soon as possible, to determine the root cause of it and to find a suitable treatment.

How to know if you have bad breath

Although you might have seen someone blow into their own hand and smell the cupped air, it is actually really hard to tell if your own breath smells. The best way to do so is to ask another person to smell your breath for you. If you can’t find someone to do that, you could look at and smell your dental floss after you have cleaned your teeth. If it smells unpleasant, it could be an indication your breath does too. There are also external factors which might indicate you have bad breath. These include a dry mouth, a burning tongue, mucous, a white or fuzzy coating over the tongue, build-up around and between the teeth and thick saliva (which may cause you to need to clear your throat constantly.)

How to prevent bad breath throughout the day

There are many temporary solutions available to prevent bad breath throughout the day, but they are no replacement for visiting your dentist to find the underlying cause. These temporary fixes include scraping your tongue, chewing gum, drinking plenty of water, using a lozenge or other ‘fresh-breath’ product, quitting smoking, eating foods high in vitamin D (this helps to inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth), making diet changes (ie. using less garlic) and brushing your teeth after every meal. If you think your breath smells bad and could be caused by more than just that garlic, onion and anchovy pizza you devoured for lunch, give our friendly team a call to make an appointment for a check-up, assessment and clean on 03 9435 6063