Does your breath smell? Finding out what's causing your bad breath (halitosis) can be the key to making it go away.

Mouthwash, chewing gum and breath mints are fine as a temporary fix, but if you want fresher breath for the long term, you need to treat the problem at its source. Here are four of the most common causes of bad breath and what can help to solve them [1].

man breathing fire

1. Poor oral hygiene

Most people who suffer from bad breath can make a lasting improvement by improving their oral hygiene.

The bacteria in your mouth that causes plaque also produces foul-smelling gases that can get trapped on your teeth, gums and tongue if you don't clean your mouth properly. Food particles that linger on your teeth can also contribute their own bad smells.

Dentists recommend that you brush your teeth at least twice a day, using a fluoride toothpaste, and floss once a day to remove plaque and food from between your teeth. If you wear dentures, these also need to be cleaned every day to remove food and bacteria.

2. Strongly-flavoured food and drink

If you only notice bad breath when you have certain foods or beverages, this can usually be prevented by cutting these out of your diet – or brushing and flossing more often.

Common culprits are pungent foods such as garlic, onions and spices and drinks such as alcohol and coffee. In some cases, odours can continue even after the food has been broken down, as their components can travel through your blood to your lungs and scent your breath.

If you don't want to give up your favourite foods and drinks, you can reduce their effects by rinsing your mouth with water afterwards and adding a mouthwash to your oral care routine.

3. Oral health problems

Bad breath can also be a symptom of a more serious problem in your mouth. Keeping up with your scheduled dental appointments will give your dentist the chance to catch these problems at an early stage when they're usually easier and less expensive to treat.

Because the bacteria in plaque produces odours, this can be a sign that tooth decay or gum disease is present. These diseases can lead to tooth loss if they're not treated in time by your dentist.

If your mouth always feels dry and you don't produce much saliva, you may have dry mouth syndrome (xerostomia). Saliva is important for cleaning and disinfecting your mouth, so reduced saliva flow can allow more bacteria and food to build up.

4. Medical conditions

Bad breath can also be caused by health problems not directly related to your mouth, which will need to be diagnosed by your doctor. These can include diabetes, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) and digestive or respiratory infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia and sinusitis.

The medication you're taking to manage a condition may also cause bad breath or dry mouth as a side-effect. If so, you should talk to your doctor about alternatives.

See an oral hygienist in Brisbane CBD

If you have bad breath, talk to one of our experienced hygienists at Face Value Dental. We'll advise you on how to take the best care of your oral health and can help you identify the underlying cause.

Call us on (07) 3221 0677 or book an appointment online.

References

1 Bad breath - Causes (halitosis),2016, NHS Choices, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bad-breath/causes/