16 October 20

What counts as 'bad' breath?

Certain foods, health conditions and habits are among the causes of bad breath. In many cases, you can improve bad breath with consistent proper dental hygiene. Dental infections caused by bacteria can cause bad breath so, for example, periodontal disease.

Causes of bad breath

Most bad breath starts in your mouth, and there are many possible causes. They include:

  • Diet. The breakdown of food particles in and around your teeth can increase bacteria and cause a foul odour. Certain foods, such as garlic can cause bad breath.
  • Smoking. Smoking causes its own unpleasant mouth odour. Smokers and oral tobacco users are also more likely to have gum disease, another source of bad breath.
  • Bad oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing daily is key. If the food particles remain in your mouth, they can cause bad breath. Plaque then forms on the teeth. If not brushed away, plaque can irritate your gums and eventually form pockets between your teeth and gums. In severe cases, you can develop periodontal disease. Your tongue also can trap bacteria that produce odours.
  • Dry mouth. Saliva helps cleanse your mouth, removing particles that cause foul odours. A condition called dry mouth, or xerostomia can contribute to bad breath because the production of saliva is decreased. Dry mouth naturally occurs during sleep, leading to morning breath, it can worsen if you sleep with your mouth open. Chronic dry mouth can be caused by a problem with your salivary glands and some diseases.
  • Medications. Some medications can indirectly produce bad breath by contributing to dry mouth. Others can be broken down in the body to release chemicals that can be carried on your breath.
  • Infections in your mouth. Surgical wounds can cause bad breath after oral surgery, such as tooth extraction, or as a result of tooth decay, gum disease or mouth sores.

It can be due to underlying medical conditions. Bad breath can occasionally stem from small stones that form in the tonsils and are covered with bacteria that produce odour. Infections or chronic inflammation in the nose, sinuses or throat, which can contribute to postnasal drip, also can cause bad breath. 

Diseases, such as some cancers, and conditions such as metabolic disorders, can cause a distinctive breath odour as a result of chemicals they produce. Chronic reflux of stomach acids (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) can be associated with bad breath. Bad breath in young children can be caused by a foreign body, such as a piece of food, lodged in a nostril.

Brush twice daily with an electric toothbrush that is minty. Use floss and tepe brushes twice a day. Use a tongue scraper to remove the bacteria from the mouth. Consider a mouthwash at other times from brushing. See a dentist if the smell doesn’t subside to ensure it is not cavities or gum disease.

Eating certain foods, such as onions, garlic and spices, also can cause bad breath. After you digest these foods, they enter your bloodstream, are carried to your lungs and affect your breath. Drink lots and lots of water to keep hydrated as dehydration can cause bad breath.

Constipation can lead to bad breath. Poor digestion, constipation, or bowel disorders can all cause unfortunate odour on the breath. If you frequently experience acid reflux, the odours from recently consumed foods may easily make their way back up the oesophagus and out the mouth, causing bad breath.

Is there any way to permanently get rid of bad breath?

You need to find out the underlying cause, so if it is a digestive issue ensuring that is diagnosed and treated. If it is gum disease, ensuring you see a dentist or periodontist to have that treated. Ensuring that you are practising perfect oral hygiene on a daily basis.

Why does smoking affect your breath?

Smoking affects breath too. Tobacco causes bad breath, but also its relationship with gum disease has been the topic of interest in the last 10-15 years.

Some research in previous decades thought that severe gum disease in smokers was caused by poor dental hygiene, and was made worse by smoking. It is now known that smoking when adjusted for poor dental hygiene still causes more gum disease than in non-smokers.

Smokers also may find they have bad morning breath. Smoking not only causes your saliva — your natural mouth rinse — to dry up but also can raise the temperature of your mouth, making it a breeding ground for that dreaded bacteria that causes bad breath. Add this to your list of reasons to quit smoking.

Any products you recommend?

Yes. PÄRLA toothpaste tablets to use twice a day every day with an electric toothbrush. It contains eco-friendly ingredients that give a burst of minty flavour and the perfect dose of fluoride to prevent tooth decay.

Use a tongue scraper after brushing, TePes and floss.

Why is breath worse in the morning?

When you sleep, your mouth dries out. When your mouth dries out, odour-producing bacteria increase, when you sleep, your normal flow of saliva decreases. That’s why your breath can be worse in the morning.

Any quick fixes? Like pre-date or interview?

Chew sugar-free chewing gum. If you have PÄRLA, you can also pop one and brush as usual.

Is there anything else related to our diet that affects our breath?

Constipation can lead to bad breath. Poor digestion or bowel disorders can all cause unfortunate odour. If you frequently experience acid reflux, the odours from recently consumed foods may easily make their way back up the oesophagus and out the mouth.

When should you see a medical professional?

If all oral hygiene methods do not work or you have stopped smoking or eating foods which cause strong odours, but the smell persists, You then need to address the underlying cause and see a Dr or dentist.