Keeping Bad Breath at Bay

Bad breath, or halitosis as it is called medically, is a preventable condition that we all want to avoid if possible. Unlike the occasional moment of bad breath from what we just ate, Halitosis is considered bad breath beyond a socially acceptable level that is ongoing and may require a consultation with your dentist.

What Causes Bad Breath?

Bad breath can be attributed to many causes, but knowing what they are can help you reduce it.

Foods we eat – Certain foods can be a problem, especially in social situations when we have eaten something that reminds those around us what we had for dinner. Onions and garlic are usually the top two culprits as they contain sulphuric compounds that are absorbed into the bloodstream. This enables a secondary wave of odour that makes its way into our lungs, which can then escape through our mouth. That’s not to say you shouldn’t eat them, just don’t overdo it. Other foods that feed bad breath include canned tuna, horseradish, and surprisingly, dairy. Milk may be good for the body, but it can feed the naturally occurring bacteria on your tongue, resulting in an unattractive odour.

Poor oral hygiene – If we don’t clean our teeth and gums, we end up creating a breeding ground for bacteria to thrive. Brushing daily and flossing reduces the leftover food in our mouths that rots away and feeds the unwanted bacteria. The bad smell comes from the bacteria releasing sulphur compounds. In the end, poor oral hygiene will cause tooth decay and infections around the teeth which can also lead to bad breath. Known as periodontal disease, this condition needs immediate treatment from an oral health professional.

Drinking and smoking – An obvious cause of bad breath that does not need much explaining. Smokers are at a higher risk of developing periodontal disease, irritated gums, and oral cancer.

Dry mouth (Xerostomia) – This condition is often a key part of halitosis. When a decrease in saliva production occurs, the mouth can’t cleanse itself and remove the food debris left behind after eating. Dry mouth can also be caused by medical treatments such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy, which damage the salivary glands if the head, face, and neck are being targeted. However, staying clear of alcohol and drinking plenty of fluids whilst eating can help reduce dry mouth in these instances as well as help flush excess food out of the mouth.

How to Prevent Halitosis?

Good oral hygiene – The most effective way of reducing the risk of dental problems associated with halitosis and gingivitis is to brush twice a day and floss. We don’t just clean our teeth to keep them white, we clean them to remove unwanted food and bacteria that thrive in our mouths. So, with that being said, be methodical and take your time when cleaning — and don’t forget to clean your tongue.

Dentures – If you have dentures, take them out and clean them completely before putting them back in your mouth.

Smoking – If you smoke, quit. Your breath will smell better, and you will be healthier overall for doing it.

Good food choices – Keep your saliva flowing by choosing healthy foods that make you chew. Carrots and apples are two foods that require a lot of saliva because of chewing. If you have a dry mouth, keep your mouth moist by drinking fluids — ideally, water — when eating.

If you have any concerns about your bad breath, speak to your dentist. If you would like a second opinion at Western Prosthodontic Centre, call us on (08) 9321 1632 or contact us online.