Bad breath (or halitosis) is an unpleasant odour that can occur from time to time or be long lasting.

The main cause of bad breath is in the mouth. We have millions of bacteria that live in the mouth, particularly on the back of the tongue and these bacteria feed on the food debris that accumulates in the mouth and between our teeth. The bacteria give off a sulphur compound and it is this that creates the bad odour. Smoking and drinking alcohol contribute to unpleasant odour. There are other conditions that affect the airways and stomach that can lead to bad breath too.

Improving oral hygiene is the most effective way to eliminate bad breath. Brushing teeth and tongue twice a day using fluoride toothpaste, as well as flossing, will remove the bacteria which generally removes the odour. Other things that help are –

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Chewing sugar-free gum after meals
  • Stopping smoking
  • Eating a well-balanced diet
  • Making regular visits to your dentist

The other causes of bad breath (which can be treated by your dentist) are

  • Infection of the gums (Periodontal disease)
  • Decayed teeth
  • A condition called ‘Dry mouth’ affecting the flow of saliva

If your dentist finds that your mouth is healthy but you still have bad breath, you may be referred to your family medical practitioner as there are other causes of bad breath –

  • Sinusitis and bronchitis.
  • Problems within the stomach.
  • Diabetes.
  • Liver and kidney problems.