bad breath head pic

Bad Breath (Halitosis)

We’ve all awoken from that awesome nap on the sofa to a gross taste in our mouth and the firm suspicion that our breath can almost definitely be smelled by Mrs. Jenkins four doors down. Though this is usually fixed with a quick brush of the teeth, if you struggle with more regular breath issues it can be embarrassing and you may be unsure what to do about. There are a number of causes for bad breath and most can be easily overcome with some simple lifestyle changes. So let’s run through causes and solutions to the bad breath.

+   Symptoms

The obvious symptom of bad breath is that your breath smells unpleasant or strong. However, the actual smell of your breath may vary depending on the cause of your bad breath. First things first before jumping to conclusions you may consider asking a family member or friend what they think of your breath. You may find you are worrying about nothing as it’s very hard to tell for yourself how your breath smells.

+   Causes

There are a variety of causes for bad breath and most of them can be negated by simple lifestyle changes and good hygiene.

  • Food
    • The bacterial breakdown of food particles left around your teeth and gums after eating can cause your breath to smell
    • Strong foods like onions and garlic can cause not only an initial smell but you will also digest them into your blood stream causing the smell to stick around for longer
  • Tobacco
    • Use of tobacco in the form of cigarettes, pipe tobacco and chewing tobacco can lead to bad breath
    • Tobacco use can also cause gum disease which may also cause bad breath
  • Poor Dental Hygiene
    • If you are bad at brushing your teeth regularly and avoid flossing you will end up with food particles still in your mouth and a build-up of plaque. Both of these things can cause bad breath
    • Plaque is a film of bacteria that forms on the teeth and gums. If plaque is not regularly removed by brushing, flossing or cleaning it can form pockets between the gums and teeth. These pockets of bacteria will irritate gums and cause bad odour
    • Your tongue can also trap bacteria due to its uneven surface. You may get a fuzzy tongue or white coating and tends to congregate towards the back
  • Dry Mouth
    • Part of the reason you produce saliva is to help keep your mouth clean and remove some of the particles that may cause bad breath
    • When you get dry mouth the lack of saliva will contribute to bad breath
    • Dry mouth may occur naturally such as when you sleep or it may be cause by medications
  • Infections
    • Sometimes you may get an infection when you have a mouth sore or a small wound or get a tooth removed the cause of the infection may cause an odour
    • Sinus or nasal infections may lead to snot dripping down the back of your throat also possibly causing an unpleasant smell
  • Other Causes
    • Chronic Reflux
    • Metabolic disorders
    • Xerostomia (a salivary gland condition)
    • In rare cancers some mouth cancers

+   Treatments

Most bad breath is very easily solved by avoiding strong smelling foods and using good oral hygiene. What does this mean?

  • Brushing and flossing your teeth daily
    • Use toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain an anti bacterial such as cetylpyridinium chloride or chlorhexidine
    • Change your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months
    • Brush your tongue also! I know it’s a little weird but bacteria likes to hang out on your tongue just be careful not to choke yourself

If this doesn’t work and you are concerned there is an underlying reason for your bad breath or if you have pain or soreness in your mouth take a trip to your dentist. Your dentist will be able to see if there is anything else going on in there such as gum disease or tooth decay. If they can’t work out the issue they may refer you to your GP.

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