Having bad breath can be an embarrassing problem – especially if you are regularly face to face with other people. Known professionally as halitosis, bad breath plagues many people every day. Most cases of bad breath can be remedied by efficiently brushing the teeth. However, some types of bad breath are chronic or recurring, which may warrant a visit to the dentist.
What causes bad breath?
Bad breath can also be caused by some medical problems. ‘Dry mouth’ (xerostomia) is a condition that means your mouth produces less saliva. This causes bacteria to build up in your mouth and this leads to bad breath. Dry mouth may be caused by some medicines, by salivary gland problems or by continually breathing through your mouth instead of your nose. Older people may produce less saliva, causing further problems.
If you suffer from dry mouth, your dental team may be able to recommend or prescribe an artificial saliva product. Or they may be able to suggest other ways of dealing with the problem.
Can I prevent bad breath?
To keep your breath fresh, you must get rid of any gum disease, and keep your mouth clean and fresh. If you do have bad breath, try keeping a diary of all the foods you eat and list any medicines you are taking. Take this diary to your dentist, who may be able to suggest ways to solve the problem.
Brush your teeth and gums last thing at night and at least one other time during the day, with a fluoride toothpaste. Don’t forget to brush your tongue as well, or use a tongue scraper. Cut down on how often you have sugary food and drinks.
• Visit your dental team regularly, as often as they recommend.
• Clean in between your teeth with ‘interdental’ brushes or floss at least once a day – brushing alone only cleans up to about 60 percent of the surface of your teeth. There are other products you can buy to clean between your teeth.
• Use a mouthwash – some contain antibacterial agents that could kill bacteria that make your breath smell unpleasant.
If you continue to suffer from bad breath visit your dental team to make sure that the mouthwash is not covering up a more serious underlying problem. Chew sugar-free gum – it helps your mouth produce saliva and stops it drying out. A dry mouth can lead to bad breath.