Having bad breath can be the ultimate deal breaker in social environments. What’s worse? Knowing you have bad breath, or having bad breath and not being aware that you do! It’s no surprise that having chronic halitosis (bad breath) can affect your relationships, self esteem, confidence and social life. Feeling embarrassed or experiencing anxiety are the most common behavioural effects from having bad breath. Many products we see on the shelves that are designed to fight bad breath are only temporary measures that don’t attack the cause of the problem. In many cases, certain foods, health conditions and certain habits are all among the causes of chronic halitosis. It’s important to be aware of the causes, symptoms and treatments available to pinpoint if the cause of your bad breath isn’t from a more serious condition within your body.

Poor oral hygiene is essentially the primary cause of bad breath. That’s why it’s imperative to visit your dentist for regular professional cleaning as they would be able to provide a thorough oral analysis. Your dentist will be able to discover whether the primary cause for bad breath is caused by your teeth, gums, mouth or from an infection within your body.

What are the causes of bad breath?

Your mouth is a bacteria breeding frenzy. If your oral hygiene is neglected, certain symptoms may be associated with bad breath however there are other possible causes. They include:

  • Food - The breakdown of certain food particles in and around your teeth can leave lingering smells. These include garlic, onions, spices, fish, acidic beverages, coffee and cheese. Despite these odours being short lived, other foods can get wedged between teeth which can promote bacterial growth and plaque. 
  • Tobacco & Smoking - Smoking or chewing tobacco causes its own unpleasant mouth odour. Tobacco use can also precipitate other bad breath causes such as oral cancer and gum disease.
  • Poor Dental Hygiene - Neglecting your oral health routine will promote the build up of sticky plaque on your teeth. Over time, these pockets of bacteria can irritate your gums, teeth and trap bacteria on your tongue that produce unpleasant odours. If your teeth and gums are not brushed and flossed regularly, food particles can rot and create tartar. This could potentially form oral diseases such as gingivitis, periodontitis & gum disease. 
  • Dry Mouth - Dry mouth, also called xerostomia can also cause bad breath. Saliva assists with the breakdown of food particles and help to cleanse the mouth. The decreased production of saliva may be caused by salivary gland problems, tissue disorders and medications. Bad breath occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough saliva to keep the mouth hydrated, to assist with removing particles that promote bad odours. Sleeping with your mouth open or snoring leads also contributes to ‘morning breath’.
  • Medications - Certain medications used to treat allergies or infections can cause the mouth to dry. Sinus congestion is also common when taking certain medications as it can cause people to breathe from their mouths, causing dry mouth and bad breath.
  • Health Problems / Infections - Other mouth, nose and throat conditions including small bacterial and food stones that form in the tonsils, produce odour. Surgical wounds after oral surgery, sinus infections/ allergies, sore throats, chronic acid reflux, bronchitis and other stomach or digestion problems are linked with bad breath. 

What Can I Do To Prevent Bad Breath?

If you don’t brush and floss your teeth daily food particles will remain in your mouth, allowing for bacterial growth between gums, on the tongue and in between the surface of your teeth. Here are additional steps to help with the prevention of bad breath:

  • Get frequent dental checks - Seeing your dentist regularly and getting professional cleans will keep your teeth and gums healthy. Your dentist will also be able to detect at an earlier stage or treat any dry mouth, disease or other infections that were the cause for bad breath.
  • Practice good oral hygiene - Be sure to brush your teeth before and after bed. Using fluoride toothpaste will add an extra layer of protection to your enamel and remove food debris. Replace your toothbrush every 3 months or when you’ve recovered from the flu. 
  • Don’t forget to brush the tongue and the roof of your mouth also!
  • Chew sugar free gum - Chewing gum will keep your teeth clean and will promote constant production of saliva.
  • Drink heaps of water - Drinking water will also keep the mouth moist. This will assist with washing away excess food particles and bacteria.