Bad breath is a dreadful condition that can cause embarrassment making us very self-conscious. This can create social and psychological barriers which affect our relationships and even our marriages. Some people suffering from bad breath are unfortunately not aware of this problem. And some who are aware rely on items such as mints and mouthwashes that only assist temporarily.
Bad breath can often be improved with proper oral hygiene. Though it would be advisable to visit a participating dentist in the case this does not solve your bad breath. Dentists can identify the cause and develop a treatment plan to eliminate the bad breath. You should feel encouraged to seek treatment due to the high success rate in managing bad breath.
How do I know whether I suffer from bad breath?
It is almost impossible for people to determine if their own breath offends. We become accustomed to our own odours and are unable to distinguish whether our breath offends. Cupping our hands over our mouths and trying to smell our breath is ineffective. This is because we often don't produce bad breath until we talk. Talking forces out foul breath from the back of the mouth where the vast majority of bad breath is produced. The best way to determine if you have bad breath is to ask a trusted friend or loved one.
What causes bad breath?
The causes of bad breath are numerous.
- Gum Disease. Poor dental hygiene and gum disease can be a source of bad breath. Food particles remain in your mouth collecting odorous bacteria if you dont brush and floss daily. A colorless, sticky film of bacteria known as plaque forms on your teeth. Plaque can irritate your gums and cause tooth decay if not brushed away. Plaque-filled pockets can eventually form between your teeth and gums worsening this problem and your breath. Dentures that aren't cleaned regularly or don't fit properly can also harbour odour causing bacteria and food particles. Eliminating gum disease and maintaining good oral health is essential to preventing bad breath.
- Food. The breakdown of food particles in and around your teeth can cause bad breath. Eating foods containing volatile oils is another source of bad breath. Onions and garlic are the best known examples but other vegetables and spices also can also be culprits. These foods are digested and the pungent oils are absorbed into your bloodstream. It is then carried to your lungs where it is expelled in your breath until the food is eliminated from your body. Alcohol behaves in the same way. This allows the measurement of alcohol levels by breath tests. Alcohol itself has almost no odour. The characteristic smell on your breath is mainly the odour of other components of the beverage.
- Disease. Several illnesses can cause distinctive bad breath. Chronic lung infections and lung abscesses can produce very foul smelling breath. Kidney failure can cause a urine-like odour and liver failure can also cause an odour sometimes described as fishy. People with diabetes often have bad breath. Chronic reflux of stomach acids from your stomach (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) and a slight protrusion of the stomach into the chest cavity (hiatal hernia) can also produce bad breath.
- Dry mouth. Saliva helps cleanse and moisten your mouth. A dry mouth enables dead cells to accumulate on your tongue, gums and cheeks. These cells then decompose and cause odour. Dry mouth naturally occurs during sleep. It's what causes morning breath. Dry mouth is even more of a problem if you sleep with your mouth open. Some medications, smoking and a problem with your salivary glands can also lead to a chronic dry mouth.
- Tobacco products. Smoking dries out your mouth and causes its own unpleasant mouth odour. Tobacco users are also more likely to have gum disease which is an additional source of bad breath.
- Severe dieting. Dieters may develop unpleasant breath from infrequent eating. Dieters may develop unpleasant "fruity" breath from the breakdown of body chemicals during fasting.
- Mouth, nose and throat conditions. Bad breath is also associated with sinus infections because nasal discharge from your sinuses into the back of your throat can cause mouth odour. A child with bad breath may have a foreign object lodged their nose. A bean or small item stuck in the nose can cause persistent nasal discharge and a foul odor. Strep throat, tonsillitis and mononucleosis can cause bad breath until the throat infection clears. Bronchitis and other upper respiratory infections in which you cough up odorous sputum are another source of bad breath. Canker sores may be related to bad breath especially when accompanying gum disease.
What can I do about bad breath?
Regular checkups will allow dentists to detect any problems such as gum disease, a dry mouth or other disorders that may be causing bad breath. Maintaining good oral hygiene, eliminating gum disease and scheduling regular professional cleanings are essential to reducing bad breath.
Good oral hygiene is essential in order to prevent bad breath. Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth daily with dental floss. Ensure you also brush your tongue. Be sure to remove your dentures at night and clean them thoroughly before replacing them the next morning.
How do I find a dentist who treats bad breath?
smile.com.au approved dentists can assist you with issues pertaining to bad breath. Do not hesitate to discuss treatment options with your dentist. Your dentist can treat the cause of the problem.
What is the treatment for bad breath?
It may be helpful to visit a participating dentist as bad breath is almost always caused by a problem in the mouth. Do not try to mask your bad breath before the visit. It will assist the dentist to see the full extent of the problem.
A smile.com.au approved dentist can either treat you or refer you to a periodontist in the case that you are suffering from gum disease. Gum disease can cause gum tissues to pull away from the teeth and form pockets. Only a professional cleaning can remove the bacteria and plaque that accumulate when these pockets are deep. Sometimes more extensive treatment is necessary. A smile.com.au dentist will address any other issues necessary to prevent bad breath if the problem is caused in the mouth.
It may be necessary to visit other health professionals if no oral cause can be identified by the dentist.
What can I do for myself?
- Brush your teeth after you eat. Keep a toothbrush at work to brush after eating.
- Use a fairly new toothbrush. Change your toothbrush every three to four months and choose a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Brush your tongue. Giving your tongue, including the back of your tongue, a good brushing removes dead cells, bacteria and food debris. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush your tongue with at least 5 to 15 strokes.
- Floss at least once a day. Proper flossing removes food particles and plaque from between your teeth.
- Drink plenty of water. Be sure to consume plenty of water to keep your mouth moist. Refrain from coffee, soft drinks or alcohol. Chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless candy also stimulates saliva which washes away food particles and bacteria. Your dentist or physician may prescribe an artificial saliva preparation or an oral medication that stimulates the flow of saliva in the instance you have chronic dry mouth.
- Clean your dentures well. Clean your bridge or denture thoroughly at least once a day or as directed by your approved smile.com.au dentist.
- Use Mouthwash. Use a mouthwash recommended by your dentist or pharmacist. The ideal time to use mouthwash is just prior to sleeping.
- Schedule regular dental checkups. Visit your smile.com.au approved dentist at least twice a year to have your teeth or dentures examined and cleaned. Also to have your teeth professionally cleaned.
Can sugarless gum help with bad breath?
Yes. Sugarless gum can help with bad breath by stimulating saliva flow. Saliva acts as a natural mouthwash cleansing the teeth of bacteria and the food particles that bacteria feed on. Saliva also dissolves the volatile sulfur particles which cause bad breath.
Can mouthwash help with bad breath?
Conventional mouthwashes only temporarily mask bad breath. The alcohol found in mouthwashes generally dries the mouth making it more susceptible to odour causing bacteria. Ask smile.com.au approved dentists for a recommendation regarding a preferred mouthwash.
Does talking a lot during the day cause bad breath?
This is often a common problem for people whose jobs require them to talk constantly. Talking dries the mouth which encourages bacteria that cause bad breath. Talking more can dry the mouth and proliferate more odour causing bacteria.
Drinking water can keep the mouth moist and also stimulate saliva flow. An alternative is a drop of lemon placed on the tip of the tongue. This can stimulate saliva flow and moisten the mouth which will make it less hospitable for odor causing bacteria.
Can my menstrual period cause bad breath?
It is common for women to produce bad breath during their menstrual cycle. Hormonal changes make the gums more hospitable to odor causing bacteria. Tiny capillaries which run through the gums become more fragile and tend to burst releasing small quantities of blood into the gums just prior to menstruation. Bacteria feed on this blood creating odorous volatile sulfur particles.