What can I do about bad breath?

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It’s a topic that’s a little on the nose!

Halitosis, or chronic bad breath, can’t be solved with a mint or mouthwash.  It’s bad breath that hangs around longer than the strong smell that lingers after a garlicky meal or the ‘morning breath’ we experience as a result of the natural decrease in our saliva production overnight.    

It may be a sensitive topic to discuss if you are personally experiencing breath that’s not so fresh and can be even more sensitive when a friend or loved one is involved.  Chronic bad breath can be a sign of an underlying health condition and discovering the source of the odour can take some detective work!   

It’s a topic we as dental professionals encounter regularly.  Are you concerned about your breath?  Talk to your Medland Dentist, Hygienist or Oral Health Therapist at your next appointment.  Understanding bad breath and exactly what may be causing it is key to achieving fresh breath confidence.    

Bad breath may be caused by one or more of the following: 

  • Gum disease 
  • Tooth decay 
  • Wearing dentures or other oral appliances 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Medications 
  • Smoking 
  • Reflux 
  • Allergies 
  • Sinus conditions, recent respiratory illness, chronic post-nasal drip 
  • Tonsilitis or tonsil stones 
  • Specific diets 
  • Frequent consumption of odorous foods (i.e., onion, garlic) 
  • Or in rare cases, systemic diseases such diabetes, kidney or liver failure. 

Has it been a while since your last dental examination and professional scale and clean?  A thorough examination and clean is the perfect place to start if you are experiencing halitosis.  A thorough examination detects dental disease which may be causing your bad breath and provides an opportunity to discover general health conditions and make referrals to other healthcare providers if additional management is necessary.  Professional cleaning is important for gum health and when combined with a great homecare routine (twice daily brushing and daily flossing) it reduces the bacterial build up in the mouth that cause unpleasant odours.  

Managing halitosis: 

  • See your Dentist, Hygienist or Oral Health Therapist for a thorough examination and professional clean and attend regular maintenance appointments (usually 3-6 monthly) to detect dental disease and manage bacterial build up in the mouth. 
  • Maintain a thorough and consistent home care routine.  Brush twice daily for 2 minutes, ideally with an electric toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste and clean in between your teeth at least once daily.   
  • Seek medical advice from your GP or other healthcare provider if your Dentist, Hygienist or Oral Health Therapist suspects your halitosis may be caused by an underlying general health condition. 
  • Use a tongue ‘scraper’ or toothbrush to remove bacteria from the top surface of the tongue each time you brush.  Most pharmacies or health food stores will carry a variety of tongue cleaning options.  Alternatively, use your toothbrush bristles or the textured rubber pad present on the back of the head of some toothbrush brands.  
  • Use a prescribed mouthwash which specifically targets odour causing bacteria.  Most mouthwashes simply mask odours with scents or flavouring and are not ‘specific’ enough to target and reduce odour causing bacteria. 
  • Stay well hydrated, chew sugar free gum and/or use salivary substitutes to help avoid halitosis caused by dry mouth. 
  • Avoid smoking. 
  • Reduce caffeine, alcohol and odorous food consumption (e.g., onion, garlic). 
  • Consider dental specific pro-biotics which may help to encourage a balanced oral microbiome with less odour causing bacteria. 
  • Avoid specific diets as they may contribute to halitosis.  For example, consuming a ketogenic diet can lead to ‘keto breath’ which may smell metallic or of rotten fruit.