Why does my breath smell bad?

Bad breath, or Halitosis, is quite a common condition and can affect anyone. It can be very embarrassing, affecting a person’s self-esteem and even cause anxiety. Most people are under the impression that mints, mouthwash, and a good brushing can solve the problem, but these give only temporary relief. If the bad breath remains for an extended period, it may be a sign of a more serious problem. This week, we will look at the different causes of bad breath and how we can manage it.

Poor Dental Hygiene. Poor brushing and flossing techniques can lead to food being trapped between the teeth. These food particles that remain in your mouth will lead to bad breath. If the particles are not removed, plaque will form on your teeth. The plaque in turn will affect your gums causing gum disease, which will further worsen the problem. Bacteria accumulating on your tongue can also lead to bad breath. Dentures that are not being cleaned properly can also cause bad breath.

Throat, nose and mouth infections. Infections of the mouth, nose and throat may cause a postnasal drip which can contribute to bad breath.

Food. Certain pungent foods like spices, onions and garlic enter your bloodstream after digestion and are carried to your lungs that will affect your breath.

Tobacco and Smoking. Smokers are generally more prone to gum disease and thus bad breath as well. On top of this, smoking causes its own form of bad breath.

Dry mouth. Saliva is especially important for oral health and can be seen as your body’s own mouth wash as it helps remove all excess food particles from your mouth. A common sign of dry mouth or Xerostomia is Halitosis. Common causes of dry mouth are smoking, excess caffeine, medications and tobacco use. Other less common conditions causing bad breath are Chronic Reflux Disease and other digestive problems as well as certain metabolic conditions like Diabetes, Liver and Kidney Disease.

The next question then is: How do we treat bad breath?

Step1: Practice good oral hygiene by brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing to remove foods trapped between your teeth. You can clean your tongue once daily with a tongue scraper to remove bacteria built up on the surface of your tongue.

Step 2: Make sure that you are properly hydrated by drinking plenty of water. You can also chew sugar free gum to stimulate saliva flow and cut back on caffeine as much as possible.

Step 3: If the problem persists it is time to consult your Dentist. You may suffer from a more serious condition that needs urgent attention and cannot be solved by making lifestyle changes.

If you found this helpful, be sure to check your Bulletin every second week for more practical advice concerning your dental health. August will be Gum Disease Month where we will discuss the different types of gum diseases and what we can do to treat, but more importantly, do to prevent their occurrence.