Bad breath. It’s a problem that most of us will suffer from at some point in our lives, and it stems from poor oral hygiene. Nobody wants their breath to be unpleasant, it can sometimes be embarrassing and can knock your confidence. Your mouth reflects your entire body’s ecosystem, which is why it’s important to brush your teeth, floss and use mouthwash in your daily routine.
What is bad breath?
Halitosis, more commonly known as bad breath, can be the result of leftover food particles building up between your teeth and under your gum line. The bacteria in your mouth feed off these food particles, releasing a smelly odour chemically referred to as hydrogen sulfide, as well as other chemicals. Bad breath can cause anxiety and confidence problems long-term, so it’s better to sort it early.
What causes bad breath?
From food, tobacco products, to dry mouth and oral infection, there can be many causes of bad breath. Smoking creates an odour in your mouth, smokers are also more prone to gum disease, which again can be a cause of bad breath.
Poor dental hygiene tends to be the most common reason for bad breath. Without brushing or flossing, food particles aren’t removed from your mouth, instead, they harbour bacteria and cause bad breath.
What are the ‘hidden costs’ of bad breath?
Your mouth works alongside the rest of your body to keep you healthy. So just like you’d look after the other parts of your body, you should aim to look after your teeth and gums too. Your mouth can be an entry point for all sorts of infections and bacteria, which is why it’s important to keep it clean.
There are a few conditions linked to poor oral health, like cardiovascular disease and strokes, which has been linked to the infections oral bacteria cause. Other conditions include pneumonia and endocarditis which are both caused by bacteria entering at the mouth and then spreading further around the lungs and body.
While some of these links are not completely researched or understood, it’s clear that bad breath can in fact cost you (and your health) in the long run.
How can I tell if I’ve got bad breath?
If you’ve eaten onion or garlic recently, then you can probably hazard a guess that your mouth could do with some mouthwash or sugar-free gum. However, another way of knowing is by putting your hand over your mouth and smelling it there, or by licking the inside of your wrist and letting it dry for a few seconds before smelling it. If in doubt, mouthwash should always be your go-to solution.
Is bad breath permanent?
The short answer is no. Halitosis can be easily fixed with mouthwash, brushing or a piece of sugar-free chewing gum. If your bad breath tends to linger or not disappear when minty products are used, then it could be something more serious, so it’s best to get this checked over by a professional dentist.
How can I prevent bad breath?
We sound like a broken record, but having a good dental hygiene routine really is the key to preventing infection and bad breath. Brushing your teeth twice a day, for two minutes each time is essential, as well as flossing and regularly using mouthwash. But, there are other great habits you can take up too, like eating healthily, drinking plenty of water to avoid having a dry mouth and cleaning any dental appliances like retainers and dentures daily.
How can I get rid of bad breath?
Bad breath isn’t usually difficult to get rid of. It takes a good minty mouthwash or a sugar-free piece of gum to remove the odour if you need it gone immediately. Otherwise, prioritising brushing your teeth using fluoride toothpaste and cleaning your tongue with a scraper or cleaner are two effective ways to reduce the likelihood of your breath smelling unpleasant.
What products are recommended to treat bad breath?
An electric toothbrush is the first way of treating halitosis. Electric toothbrushes are better than manual brushes when it comes to removing any excess food from your mouth. Plaque can build up on your teeth and in between them, which is why the vibration and movement of an electric brush can help to get the plaque out of your mouth.
Tongue scrapers are rarely spoken about but have the ability to get rid of any biofilm which can form on the tongue. To use a tongue scraper properly, you put the scraper towards the back end of your tongue and bring it forward in one motion. You can repeat this as frequently as you wish. Research suggests that tongue scrapers can be effective in the short term with getting rid of bad breath. Tongue scrapers tend to be widely available at most pharmacies.
Unsurprisingly, floss is on this list as a treatment for bad breath. Without floss, food debris would just sit between your teeth and gums. This food can then smell, which again causes bad breath. Floss comes in a variety of forms, but they all essentially do the same thing. If you struggle to reach the back of your teeth, a floss holder is a good solution. Otherwise, if you are looking to invest in your dental routine, a water flosser could be a great addition for the busy person.
Mouthwash is also a good idea for minty fresh breath, as long as it’s alcohol-free otherwise this could dry out your mouth and cause bad breath.
Can dentists treat bad breath?
It depends on what the bad breath is caused by. If it’s caused by poor dental hygiene then your dentist will advise you on what you’re doing wrong. However, if the bad breath is due to gum disease or another underlying oral health condition, then your dentist will be able to offer a cure. It’s important to see a dentist if your bad breath doesn’t go away after a few weeks of using home remedies.