Bad breath is normal when you wake up in the morning. It should go away as soon as you drink water and brush your teeth. However, bad breath can be embarrassing if it persists throughout the day. Unfortunately, bad breath is one of the most prevalent oral health conditions in the world. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, one in every three Australians suffer from some degree of bad breath. Besides, bad breath is also one of the leading causes of social anxiety among Australians – ranking higher than stage fright or the fear of being bitten by a spider.
If you feel that you or one of your loved ones has bad breath, this article is for you. We discuss below its causes to its treatment to provide you with everything you need to know about bad breath.
Bad Breath: What it is?
According to the American Dental Association, bad breath, also known as halitosis, refers to a condition where an unpleasant smell emanates from the mouth throughout the day. Unlike the morning breath – which goes away immediately after cleaning our teeth or drinking water, halitosis does not go away easily and is a constant source of embarrassment.
What Causes Bad Breath?
Bad breath can arise due to a variety of reasons. The Department of Health (HealthDirect) lists the following major causes of halitosis:
- Poor Oral Hygiene – Poor oral hygiene maintenance is regarded as one of the most common reasons for having bad breath. When regular oral hygiene measures – such as brushing and flossing – are ignored, food particles tend to stick to our teeth and form a sticky layer called plaque. Over time, this layer hardens and becomes the calculus. Both calculus and plaque offer an ideal environment for the growth and replication of certain harmful bacteria. These bacteria utilise the carbohydrates in the plaque and tartar deposits and release toxins that cause gum disease and teeth cavities and result in a foul smell.
- Oral Health Conditions – bad breath can also result because of untreated teeth cavities and underlying periodontal problems.
- Medical Conditions – there are certain medical conditions, including respiratory problems such as tonsillitis or gastric acid reflux, leading to halitosis. Dry mouth is another condition in which saliva’s flow or production is decreased – depriving the oral cavity of its cleansing function – and hence, leading to bad breath.
- Foods and Drinks – certain foods and drinks are notorious for causing bad breath, such as tuna and foods containing spices and strong-smelling ingredients like onion and garlic.
- Smoking and Alcohol – bad breath can also be caused due to excessive alcohol, tobacco or betel quid intake.
How to Get Rid of Bad Breath?
The presence of bad breath is an indication that there is some underlying problem with your oral or physical health. But the good news is that bad breath is easily manageable – and it involves diagnosing and treating the underlying cause. As your dental experts, we recommend the following steps for getting rid of bad breath:
- Oral Hygiene Maintenance – in most cases, bad breath goes away simply with optimal oral hygiene maintenance – through regular brushing, flossing and mouthwash. Brushing your teeth twice a day, in addition to flossing daily will help us get rid of the bacteria which cause gum problems and bad breath. Your dentist may also prescribe a medicated mouthwash to treat gum inflammation and periodontal problems. If you are wearing dentures, don’t forget to immerse them in water or denture cleaning solutions overnight. You should also clean them thoroughly before wearing them again in the morning. If you do not clean the dentures, the food debris that accumulates under the dentures can cause bad breath.
- Cutting Down on Food with Strong Odours – while it may not be possible to avoid strong smelled foods altogether, reducing their intake can prevent halitosis. More importantly, you must drink water after eating these foods to wash them away and minimise their smell.
- Medical Treatment – if your dentist feels that you have halitosis because of an underlying medical condition, or as a result of a medication you are taking, he or she will refer you to your healthcare professional for further treatment.
- Cutting Down on Smoking – while alcohol intake leads to dry mouth, tobacco smoking causes gum inflammation quitting both these habits can go a long way in ensuring your oral and physical health and will also prevent bad breath.
- Keep the Saliva Flowing – in cases where dry mouth causes bad breath, your dentist may recommend sugar-free gums which stimulate the salivary glands, which leads to increased salivary production and cleansing of the oral cavity. You can also eat vegetables or fruits like apples, which involve lots of chewing, to stimulate your salivary glands.
- Visit your Dentist Regularly – there are some dental issues that are not visible to the naked eye. Only your dentist can diagnose them using special instruments. When you visit your dentist regularly for a dental check-up, he or she will diagnose dental problems in the early stages, before they can cause permanent damage to your teeth – requiring treatments such as dental fillings, root canal procedure, or even tooth extractions.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports that between 2017 and 2018 alone, there were about 72,000 hospital admissions in Australia that could have been easily prevented with regular check-ups. Visiting your dentist regularly will also help in the early diagnosis of problems that lead to bad breath.
Regardless of its underlying cause, bad breath should never be taken lightly. The good news is that the treatment of bad breath can be very simple and straightforward. If you’re unsure about your bad breadth we recommend visiting bother your dentist and GP to ensure your getting a complete picture of your mouth and overall health.
Book an appointment with an Enamel Dentist, please call us on (07) 3841 6641 or [email protected].