Thursday, 18 April 2013

Bad Breath

Treating and preventing bad breath 

Treatment for bad breath (halitosis) will depend on it's cause.
The most effective treatment is usually improving your dental hygiene. As part of your daily routine you should:
  • brush your teeth and gums
  • floss in between your teeth
  • clean your tongue

Cleaning your teeth

Your dentist is likely to recommend you brush your teeth at least twice a day using toothpaste containing fluoride. .
  • Choose a small to medium sized toothbrush with soft, multi-tufted synthetic bristles.
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months.
  • Brush your teeth after eating for at least two minutes each time. Keep a toothbrush at work or school so you can brush your teeth after lunch.
  • Brush all areas of your teeth, paying particular attention to where your teeth meet your gums.
  • Your dentist or oral hygienist may recommend using a special single-tufted brush for specific problem areas of your mouth.
  • Use a separate toothbrush or a tongue scraper to lightly brush your tongue. Some toothbrushes have a tongue cleaner on the back of the brush head.
  • Use dental floss to clean between your teeth and remove trapped food that could cause tooth decay. Brushing on its own only cleans about 60% of the tooth’s surface.
  • Your dentist may suggest you rinse your mouth daily using an anti-bacterial or anti-odour mouthwash. This should not replace brushing but can be included as part of your daily routine.
  • Avoid brushing your teeth for 30 minutes after drinking an acidic drink, such as fruit juice, or eating acidic fruit, such as oranges, to help prevent tooth erosion.

Cleaning dentures

If you wear dentures, you should take them out at night to give your mouth a chance to rest. Clean your dentures thoroughly before putting them in the next morning. Follow the advice outlined below.
  • Do not use toothpaste to clean your dentures  because it can scratch the surface and cause stains to build up.
  • Clean your dentures thoroughly using soap and lukewarm water, denture cream or a denture-cleaning tablet.
  • Use a separate toothbrush to clean your dentures.
Following this routine should ensure your dentures stay fresh and clean and will help prevent build-up of plaque which could cause bad breath.

Fresh breath tips

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet and avoid eating strongly flavoured or spicy food.
  • Cut down on sugary food and drink because it can increase the amount of bacteria in your mouth.
  • Reduce your alcohol intake.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Cut down on coffee.
  • Drink plenty of water to help prevent your mouth becoming dry.
  • Chew sugar-free gum after eating to stimulate the flow of saliva. This will help clean away any remaining food particles.
Make sure you visit your dentist for regular check-ups. They can advise on how often you should go.
Regular dental check-ups will make sure any plaque is removed from your teeth, particularly in areas that are difficult to reach.
Your dentist can recommend the best way to clean your teeth and gums and point out any areas you might be missing. They can also identify any signs of gum disease and ensure that they are treated early.

Causes of bad breath 

Bad breath (halitosis) has a number of possible causes.

Poor oral hygiene

Poor oral hygiene is the most common cause of bad breath.
Bacteria that build up on teeth, tongue and gums can cause plaque (the soft, white deposit that forms on the surface of the teeth), gum disease and tooth decay.
The bacteria combine with saliva to break down food particles and proteins which releases an unpleasant smelling gas.
If you do not brush and floss your teeth regularly, any food trapped between your teeth will be broken down by the bacteria, causing bad breath.
The bacteria can also live in the rough surface of your tongue. Therefore, as well as brushing your teeth, cleaning your tongue can also help control bad breath.
Having regular dental check-ups will ensure any oral hygiene problems are picked up and treated early. Your dentist can advise on how often you need a check-up.

Food and drink

Eating strongly flavoured foods, such as garlic, onions and spices, is likely to make your breath smell. Strong-smelling drinks, such as coffee and alcohol, can also cause bad breath.
This type of bad breath is usually temporary and can be easily avoided by not eating or drinking these types of food and drink. Good dental hygiene will also help.


Smoking is another cause of bad breath. As well as making your breath smell, smoking also causes staining and loss of taste and irritates your gums.
Smoking also increases your risk of developing gum disease which is another cause of bad breath. Stopping smoking will lower the risk of gum disease and help prevent bad breath.

Crash dieting

Crash dieting, fasting and low-carbohydrate diets can also cause bad breath. These cause the body to break down fat, which produces chemicals called ketones that can be smelt on your breath.


Some types of medication can cause bad breath. Medicines associated with bad breath include:
  • nitrates - which are sometimes used to treat angina 
  • some chemotherapy medication
  • phenothiazines (tranquilisers)
If the medication you are taking is causing bad breath, your GP may be able to recommend an alternative.

Medical conditions

Bad breath is sometimes caused by a medical condition, although this is rare.
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition that affects the flow of saliva. This can cause bacteria to build up in the mouth, leading to bad breath.
Dry mouth can be caused by salivary gland problems or continually breathing through your mouth instead of your nose.
Other medical conditions that can cause bad breath include: