How to prevent or cure bad breath

This is a delicate topic for us all.  Having bad breath can destroy confidence and cause embarrassment. 

However, most cases of bad breath (halitosis) are as a result of oral health and hygiene problems, so your dentist should be your first port of call.  

Dentists will deal sensitively with the problem and investigate to find the best solution.  This involves establishing the cause.

What causes bad breath? 

The cause may be lifestyle or diet, or something more serious, such as gum disease.  Less common by far are infections in other parts of the body.  This list provides examples of causes: 

  • Strong foods, such as garlic and onions
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Regular consumption of alcohol and cigarettes
  • Food caught between teeth
  • Dry mouth
  • Bacteria on the tongue
  • Gingivitis and periodontal disease (the two most common types of gum disease)
  • Health issues in another part of your body e.g. throat, liver, kidneys, lungs

If you are aware of your halitosis, you may have tried mouthwash.  It is better to ask your dentist for advice on this, because mouthwash may only provide a very temporary solution and may not be helpful in the longer term resolution.  

Your dentist will carry out a routine examination of your mouth – teeth, gums and tongue – to discover the cause, offer advice and recommend treatment.  The latter may be simply an appointment with a hygienist, or a prescription for antibiotics or a treatment plan to overcome gum disease.

The outcome you are looking for – fresh breath and renewed confidence – will be achieved if you work with your dentist and team. 

You may be able to stop bad breath before it happens 

Given that the most common cause is bacteria in the mouth, you should ask for advice on how to brush your teeth (Yes, surprisingly, many of us don’t do it properly, meaning we are making the effort but wasting our time) as well as how to floss and keep the tongue clean.  

Your hygiene routine must be regular and thorough.  Brushing twice a day for at least two minutes each time is recommended.  Flossing and tongue brushing is also important.  Wait at least half an hour after eating before you brush, because certain foods contain acid which, if brushed too quickly, can cause damage to teeth.   Wait for saliva to naturally wash away any acids.

With advice and guidance from a dental practitioner and a careful approach to your daily regime, you could be rid of your bad breath without having to undergo treatment. 

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