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What causes bad breath, and how can you prevent it?

What causes bad breath, and how can you prevent it?

Bad breath is unpleasant, but don’t panic! It’s a common problem which affects people of all ages – in fact, as many as one in four people experience it on a regular basis. So, if you’ve realised you have bad breath, there’s no need to feel embarrassed. This blog post will explain the usual causes and give you plenty of practical oral hygiene tips to get your breath smelling sweet again.

What causes bad breath?

So, what exactly is bad breath? Well, the medical term for it is ‘halitosis’, and the most common cause is poor oral hygiene. If you don’t clean your teeth thoroughly for the recommended twice a day, bacteria quickly starts to form on any food residue left around or between your teeth. It’s this bacteria which can cause a foul smell. Not only that, but this is how plaque forms – the yellowish build-up on the surface of your teeth – which can also lead to gum disease and tooth decay.

There are plenty of short-term causes of bad breath, too. If you eat strongly flavoured or spicy foods – typical culprits are onion, garlic or curry, you often find your breath is a bit stinky the following day. Regular smoking or drinking can also cause bad breath, and it’s worth remembering your friends and colleagues are more likely to notice it than you.

Did you realise that bad breath can also be caused by medication, or certain medical conditions? A number of drugs have been linked to bad breath, including medication used to treat angina, tranquilisers and some types of chemotherapy. Medical conditions which have been linked to bad breath include dry mouth (xerostomia), diabetes, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) and infections affecting the throat, lung or nasal passageways – such as bronchitis, tonsillitis and sinusitis.

Fasting and low-carb diets can also cause bad breath. As your body breaks down fat, chemicals called ‘ketones’ can be produced, which sometimes affect your breath.

How can I prevent bad breath?

Firstly, it goes without saying that if you think your bad breath is linked to a medication or a medical condition, you should speak to your doctor straight away. The right medication for your condition is definitely more important than the freshness of your breath! Your doctor may be able to suggest alternatives you can try.

The most important thing you can do to prevent bad breath is to improve your oral health hygiene. Our recent blog runs through our top oral hygiene tips, but here are the main areas to watch out for:

  • – Brush your teeth twice a day, with fluoride toothpaste and a good toothbrush
  • – Floss between your teeth once a day to make sure no food is trapped in the spaces between your teeth
  • – Invest in a tongue scraper to get rid of any bacteria trapped on the rough surface of your tongue
  • – Stop smoking. Smoking also stains your teeth and can lead to gum disease
  • – Eat a healthy, balanced diet and avoid strong-smelling foods
  • – Chew sugar-free gum after meals to help stimulate saliva
  • – Reduce how much tea or coffee you have – drink water instead
  • – Replace your toothbrush every three to four months.
  • – Visit your dentist regularly

 

Regular dental checkups help prevent bad breath

Regular check-ups with your dentist and dental hygienist are a good time to talk through your oral hygiene routine. Your dentist can check for and remove any plaque and calculus build-up, and give you advice on how to keep your mouth healthy.

Book your next appointment with James Main Dental Partnership today

It’s important to visit your dentist regularly. If you are worried you have bad breath, or have any concerns about your oral health at any time, make an appointment with your dentist. You can book your next checkup by calling 01458 832 193 today.