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How To Stop Bad Breath – Causes Of Bad Breath And How To Prevent It 

12th February 2021

A woman trying to stop bad breath by covering her mouth with her hand.

Wondering how to stop bad breath?

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a common struggle for many people. Knowing you have bad breath can make you feel embarrassed and self-conscious.

Bad breath is most commonly caused by poor dental hygiene. Particles of food left in the mouth are broken down by bacteria, releasing sulphur compounds and causing foul smells.

It’s a good idea to keep on top of your oral hygiene, or you might be left wondering why nobody wants to talk to you in close proximity.  

In some rare instances, bad breath can even be an indicator of underlying health conditions including cancer, diabetic ketoacidosis, kidney failure, liver failure or infections. 

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the causes of bad breath, how to stop it, and whether you should book an appointment at the dentist. 

How is Bad Breath diagnosed?

There are a variety of methods dentists can use to diagnose halitosis. Here are a few ways. 

Smell –  A dentist smells breath from your mouth or nose and rates it on an odour scale. They may also scrape the back of your tongue and rate the odour from there. 

There are also many tester tools that will identify chemicals that cause bad breath including the following.

Holometers – Identifies levels of sulphur in your mouth.

Gas Chromatography – Measures the sulphur compounds hydrogen, sulfide, methyl mercaptan and dimethyl sulfide.

Bna Test – Measures levels of the specific enzyme produced by bad breath causing bacteria.

Beta Glucose Test – Measures levels of the enzyme beta-galactosidase, which has been found to relate to bad mouth odour. 

After conducting these tests, a dentist will be able to determine a likely cause of the bad breath. 

Causes of Bad Breath

Bad breath can be caused by a number of factors. Here are a few common ones to look out for. 

Poor dental hygiene 

Poor dental hygiene is the most common cause of bad breath. Bacteria grows on bits of food in your mouth, releasing foul odours. If you don’t brush, floss and use mouthwash often, plaque will build up on your teeth, causing tooth decay and bad smells.

Strong smelling food or spicy food and drink

Strong smelling foods can leave lingering odours in your mouth. Particularly potent smelling foods such as garlic and onions release sulphur compounds into your bloodstream when they are digested. These compounds are released as bad breath when the blood reaches your lungs. 

Tobacco 

Whether they’re chewed or smoked, tobacco products can leave lingering bad smells in your mouth. They also contribute to bad oral health in general. 

Food 

Food particles in your mouth are broken down by bacteria, releasing foul odours. 

Dry Mouth 

Mouth dryness causes bad breath because saliva helps clean your mouth, and without it, bacteria thrive.

Medication

Many medications can have a number of side effects that can cause bad breath. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about any medication you are taking, as they might know if this could be the cause of your bad breath. 

Dental Diseases or Issues

If you have a dental issue like gum disease, a cavity, or an infection, it may cause bad breath. A dentist will be able to identify if this is the case. 

Other Diseases

In rare cases, bad breath could be caused by more sinister conditions including cancer, diabetic ketoacidosis, kidney failure, liver failure or infections. 

How is Bad Breath Treated? 

Once a dentist has identified a cause of bad breath, they will advise on actions to help you. 

Good Oral Hygiene Prevents Bad Breath

The best method to stop bad breath is usually the most simple. Keep on top of your oral hygiene! 

That means regularly brushing your teeth, tongue, flossing and using mouthwash.

Good hygiene prevents cavities and lowers the risk of gum disease too. 

Dentists may also prescribe special toothpaste and dental hygiene products in cases where hygiene is exceptionally poor.

Treatment of Dental Disease Can Stop Bad Breath

If halitosis is caused by dental disease, a dentist will suggest and implement actions to cure the disease and improve your oral health. 

Underlying Health Conditions

If your bad breath is caused by a serious underlying health condition, a dentist will refer you to the appropriate medical specialists who will be able to treat you. 

Good Lifestyle Habits & Home remedies To Stop Bad Breath

Take some of these good habits on board to help keep your breath fresh. 

Floss Once A Day 

Flossing will help you remove plaque and bacteria from areas in your mouth that are hard to reach with a toothbrush. 

Clean Dentures Or Dental Products Like Retainers

Dental products like retainers and dentures are in your mouth a lot and bacteria can get transferred on to them. You should clean them regularly, or they will start to smell. 

Avoid Dry Mouth

Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water to prevent fouls smells that stem from a lack of saliva.  

Adjust Your Diet

Foods and drinks like onions, garlic and coffee are particularly potent and can make your breath smell bad. Cut back on these foods to stop bad breath. 

Brush Your Teeth After Eating 

Brushing your teeth after eating will help remove bits of food, and prevent bad smells that occur when the food is broken down by bacteria. 

Regularly Change Your toothbrush/Toothbrush Head 

If you use your toothbrush every day as you should, it may become dirty. Also, over time, the bristles will get worn out and will become less effective at removing food and plaque from your mouth. 

Schedule Regular Dentist Checkups 

Visit a dentist so they can check on the health of your teeth and gums as well as offering advice and a professional cleaning to get rid of tough plaque deposits. You should aim to visit the dentist twice a year. 

Brush Teeth & Gums Twice A Day For Two Minutes 

Brushing teeth is one of the most effective ways to reduce bacteria build-up, which is a major cause of bad smells. So don’t forget! Especially if you’ve eaten lots of strong-smelling foods and sugary drinks. 

Use Fluoride Toothpaste 

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that prevents tooth decay and aids with the health of your teeth. It’s even added to the water supply in some areas of the UK for this reason. Fluoride toothpaste is a great tool for stopping bad breath as well as improving your overall oral health. 

Brush Your Tongue Or Use A Tongue Scraper 

Bacteria often accumulates on the tongue. Brushing this off with a scraper or toothbrush will help to prevent bad breath.

Have Chewing Gum/Mints After Consuming Strong-Smelling Food & Drink  

Chewing gum or mints after eating helps stimulate salvia, which prevents bacteria build-up and bad smells. 

If You Smoke, Stop. 

Smoking or chewing snuff makes your breath smell bad and stains your teeth. Tobacco is bad for the health of your mouth in general. So, kick the habit if you can.

Use Antibacterial Mouthwash Or Toothpaste 

Good mouth wash contains a number of ingredients that improve your dental hygiene and keep your mouth feeling fresh. Swilling it around in your mouth can help dislodge stubborn pieces of stuck food too. 

Cut Out Sugary Food and Drinks 

Sugar increases the number of bacteria in your mouth and contributes to tooth decay.

Eat Fresh Crispy Fruit and Veg

Healthy fresh and crunchy foods like this stimulate salvia and help wash away smelly bacteria from your teeth. They can also prevent bad breath caused by hunger too. 

Questions A Dentist Will Ask About Stopping Your Bad Breath

These are some questions a dentist may ask you if you ask them for help to stop bad breath. 

When did you notice you were struggling with bad breath?

Is bad breath continuous or only sometimes?

How many times are you brushing your teeth/ cleaning your dentures every day?

Do you floss? If so, how often?

What sort of foods do you eat most often?

Do you take any medications or supplements?

Are you prone to any allergies or sinus issues?

Are you suffering from any health conditions?

Do you breathe through your nose or your mouth?

Do you know if you snore?

Have you got any suspicions as to what is causing your bad breath?

Has anybody told you that you have bad breath?

When To See A Dentist About Bad Breath

It’s always a good idea to see a dentist regularly to make sure your mouth is healthy. Here are a few instances where it’s a good idea to see a dentist specifically about your breath. 

If bad breath doesn’t go away after a few weeks of trying to treat it, a dentist will run some tests, identify the cause of halitosis and provide advice or treatment. 

Swollen, painful or bleeding gums can be an indication of problems like gum disease. You should get these symptoms checked out, so your problems don’t get worse. 

If you are experiencing a toothache or loose adult teeth, and it’s causing bad breath, you may need treatment. Visit a dentist to get it fixed before your symptoms get worse. 

Dentures can sometimes cause bad breath. If this is the case, a dentist will be able to help you acquire new ones or fix your current ones. 

Are You Struggling With How To Stop Bad Breath?

If you’re feeling self-conscious that your breath smells bad, book an appointment with our dentists now. We’ll help you identify the cause of the problem and treat it. 

Remember when visiting us that you should book in the morning, so food smells don’t skew test results. Also, avoid wearing scented products like perfume, lipstick and vaseline as they can mask smells. If you’ve taken antibiotics in the last month, check with your dentist to see about rescheduling. 

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