Bad breath is a problem shared by millions of people around the world and can interfere with your social and professional success, so it’s heartening to know approximately 85% of cases result from oral conditions which can be treated by your dentist, or even avoided all together.
Halitosis – otherwise known as persistent, excessively bad, breath – is an embarrassing problem, the major cause of which is poor oral hygiene. Bacteria builds up in the mouth creating plaque, which not only causes cavities but can cause gum damage (gingivitis). This in turn can lead to infection and inflammation of the tissue around the teeth (periodontitis). People with periodontitis often experience bad breath due to the bacteria accumulating in hard-to-clean areas of the teeth and gums, which then feed on leftover food particles trapped there.
This creates smelly sulphur compounds which cause bad breath! A dry mouth is another cause of bad breath. When your mouth is dry and not producing enough saliva it provides the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Smoking also reduces the amount of saliva produced, drying the mouth and encouraging bacteria growth –another reason to stub out those cigarettes!. It also reduces the blood flow to the delicate tissues in the mouth and can promote gum disease. And let’s not forget the smell of tobacco lingers on the breath for a long time. Contrary to what smokers believe, the smell of tobacco is not disguised by mints or mouthwash. To maintain fresh breath ensure you visit your dentist regularly for check ups and professional cleanings.
Your dentist will clean your teeth more thoroughly than you are ever able to and treat any gingival disease or caries. At home, it’s so important to brush not only your teeth but your gums and tongue too, regularly! Daily flossing should follow tooth brushing to remove trapped food and bacteria that cannot be reached by brushing alone. Prevent your mouth from drying out by drinking plenty of non caffeinated drinks and chewing sugar free gum which helps produce saliva to keep the mouth moist.
Sufferers of bad breath shouldn’t be embarrassed, but should seek treatment.
If your bad breath persists after your oral health problems have been treated, see your doctor to rule out any other causes. There is a high success rate in managing the problem – so seeking help from a professional is a very wise move.
Dr Alison Roberts BDS (Manchester)
Dr Alison Roberts is a general dentist who treats the whole family. She is experienced in general and cosmetic dentistry, and includes Invisalign and cosmetic orthodontics in her repertoire.