The medical term halitosis refers to the presence of a noticeable and unpleasant odour on the exhaled breath. More commonly referred to as bad breath, halitosis is a common condition that can affect anyone, and is a common reason why people visit the dentist.
Bad breath can be very distressing. Sometimes we are aware that our breath smells or has an unpleasant taste, and other times we are told by a loved one, a friend or a work colleague.
The secret to getting rid of this breath issue is to work out what is causing the problem. Sometimes the solution can be simple and immediately effective.
What causes bad breath?
There are many reasons why you could be suffering from bad breath.
The number one cause is inside your mouth. If you have untreated gum disease, tooth decay, infection and/or poor oral hygiene, this can lead to bad breath. The culprit can also be gum disease, mouth infection or diet.
Bad breath can also be because of a tongue which has a coating on it that needs to be cleaned off. A simple test is to lick your wrist with your tongue, then smell your wrist. If it smells unpleasant, there’s a good chance your tongue is to blame.
Bad breath can also be coming from your blood stream into your lungs, causing bad breath when you breath out. It can also be coming through your nose, from your sinuses. Things such as sinusitis, uncontrolled diabetes, liver cirrhosis (fruity smell), kidney failure (rotten fish) and starvation can all cause bad breath. In these cases it’s important that you seek help from your GP and specialist and see the dentist regularly to help reduce the side-effects of any medical condition.
How to treat bad breath
The solution to bad breath originating in the mouth is to have a full dental examination, treat any disease and decay and get your tongue cleaned. Then, as part of your normal daily oral hygiene, incorporate cleaning your tongue. This should help keep unpleasant breath at bay.
Brush your tongue
When things are getting a little furry in your mouth (say the morning after a particularly big night out when you have forgotten to clean your teeth before going to bed) make sure to give your tongue a gentle brush as well. This can help to clean off any residue from the night before and get rid of any lingering nasties that could cause unpleasant odours.
Hydrate after coffee
If you are a lover of coffee, then chances are you may end up with some leftover aroma of your favourite roast in your mouth. Coffee lowers the level of pH in your mouth which can cause bad breath, so by drinking some water you can readdress the balance and avoid creating a great environment in which nasty bacteria can thrive.
Munch on mint
Mint in its most natural form is a pleasant and delicious mask for all kinds of scents. If you are feeling a little on the nose, chewing on some fresh mint or popping some in a long glass of water on a hot day can do wonders for your breath.
Make sure that you don’t allow yourself to get dehydrated as bacteria thrives on a dry environment. By keeping hydrated you will help to keep the nasties at bay and your breath as sweet as summer!
Sometimes the problem can be short term and may be caused by things such as sickness (fever), gastrointestinal disorder, mouth breathing, sleep or diet. If any of these applies to you, keep your fluids up so your mouth is moist, clean your tongue and teeth regularly, and the condition should resolve relatively quickly.