Are you worried about your breath? You're not alone. Around 2.4% of Australian adults have halitosis, which can be a source of embarrassment and social anxiety. Bad breath can also have other causes.
As well as giving your breath an odour, halitosis symptoms can also include dry mouth, thickened saliva, a bad taste in the mouth and coatings on the tongue and teeth. Bad breath can sometimes be a warning sign of an oral health problem such as tooth decay or gum disease.
The good news is that breath problems are often preventable. Talking to your dentist will give you an idea of the treatments available that could banish bad breath for good.
What causes bad breath?
Halitosis is a condition caused by bacteria that live on the tongue and in the throat. When these bacteria break down proteins, they can release volatile sulphur compounds (VSC) that have a pungent odour.
Temporary bad breath may be caused by smoking or consuming food or drink with strong odours, such as garlic, onions or coffee.
Bad breath may also be linked to dental and general health problems, including:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Dry mouth (xerostomia)
- Gum disease (periodontal disease)
- Acid and bile reflux
- Chronic sinusitis
- Kidney failure
How do I get my breath to stop smelling?
Finding out the most likely cause of your bad breath is the key to successful treatment. There can sometimes be several causes that will all need to be addressed. Visiting your dentist or doctor for a diagnosis should determine the likely cause and the best course of treatment.
Treatment options can include:
Improve your oral hygiene
Poor oral hygiene is a common cause of bad breath, as bacteria and leftover food in the mouth can produce odours. To improve your oral hygiene, dentists recommend:
- brushing your teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste
- brushing your tongue
- flossing between your teeth once a day
- using a fluoride mouthwash if prescribed by your dentist
Clean your tongue
If your dentist finds a high concentration of bacteria on your tongue, they may recommend using a tongue brush or scraper to help remove these. Tongue scrapers should be used gently, working from the back of the mouth (where most bacteria is present) to the front.
Drink plenty of water
Drinking water throughout the day helps to rinse bacteria and food particles from your mouth and prevent dehydration. If your local water supply has fluoride added, this can also help to protect your teeth against plaque and lower your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Diet and lifestyle changes
If your bad breath is caused by what you put in your mouth, try to avoid these foods or drinks as much as possible or rinse your mouth with water shortly afterwards to reduce their effects. Giving up smoking can also improve your breath, as well as lowering your risk of oral health and general health problems.
Visit your dentist
Keeping up with your scheduled dental visits gives your dentist the chance to spot early warning signs of oral health problems such as gum disease before they have a chance to get worse. This can also prevent bad breath.
If you're due for a check-up, or you want more advice about bad breath or other issues you're dealing with, contact our friendly team at Sydney CBD Dental to book an appointment at our George Street clinic.
 Better Health Channel. Halitosis or bad breath [Online] 2012 [Accessed December 2018] Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/halitosis-or-bad-breath
 Healthdirect. Gingivitis and halitosis [Online] 2017 [Accessed December 2018] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/gingivitis-and-halitosis
 Australian Dental Association. Fluoride [Online] 2017 [Accessed December 2018] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/News-Media/Issues-at-a-Glance/Fluoride