• Dr Firozah Shariati

Bad breath - causes and cures!



Bad breath, or Halitosis, is an embarrassing condition that affects most people at one time or another. However, the key to treating bad breath is knowing its causes and once you know this it is relatively easy to treat.

In most cases bad breath stems from poor oral hygiene. Failure to brush and floss on a regular basis allows food particles to get stuck between the teeth, along the gum line and on the surface of the tongue. Bacteria which naturally occur in the mouth attach to the food particles helping to break them down. However, this bacterial film, if not removed through regular brushing and flossing, begins to form plaque which has a strong, unpleasant odour as a result of chemicals produced by the bacteria.


Poor oral hygiene is also frequently the cause of infections within the mouth such as tooth decay (caries), gum disease (periodontitis), oral abscesses and so on. These conditions are often accompanied by bad breath. Similarly, a dry mouth from a lack of saliva often results in lower levels of oxygen in the mouth which provides odour causing bacteria with the ideal conditions in which to multiply.


Bad breath can also be caused by ones diet. A number of foods such as garlic and onion are well known for lingering on a person's breath. The odour causing chemicals in such foods, once digested, are absorbed into the blood stream, passed to the lungs and then are easily detected on exhaled breath. There is also increasing evidence that diets high in proteins and sugars can result in bad breath.


A number of other health conditions also contribute to bad breath. Infections in the nose, throat or lungs, chronic sinusitis or bronchitis and health issues within the digestive system can all result in bad breath.


Knowing the cause of bad breath is key to its effective treatment and maintaining good oral hygiene is usually the best way to treat or avoid the problem in the first place. Regular brushing, flossing and even tongue cleaning will ensure that food residue does not remain in the mouth longer than necessary thereby reducing the build-up of odour causing plaque bacteria.


A good dental routine involves brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Brushing your tongue or using a purpose-made tongue scraper is also advisable. If you wear removal dentures, these should also be removed at night, cleaned with an appropriate denture cleaner before being replaced the following morning.


If your bad breath is caused by a dry mouth there are a number of things you can do to lessen your symptoms. It is possible to stimulate saliva production by sucking on sugar-free lollies or chewing sugar-free gum. Keeping properly hydrated by drinking at least 1.5 litres of cold water a day will also assist. If you notice that your symptoms are at their worst first thing in the morning, then using a humidifier to elevate the moisture levels in your room at night is also a good idea. Avoiding things with a dehydrating affect such as drinking tea, coffee or caffeinated soft drinks, alcohol or smoking will also help.


Bad breath caused by oral infections will need a visit to the dentist to treat the underlying cause. Only your dentist or dental specialist can treat advanced tooth decay, gum diseases, and dental abscesses. Your dentist will also be able to advise you on possible dietary contributors to your condition.


If you would like more information or are concerned that you may have untreated bad breath then please contact us at Roma Street Dental on (07) 3236 2984 or reception@romastdentist.com.au to make an appointment.


#badbreath #halitosis #toothdecay #gumdisease #drymouth

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Ph. (07) 3236 2984

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