Causes of Bad Breath

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It may be reassuring to know that bad breath, or halitosis, affects up to 50% of us at some point during our lives. We can help you.

The most common cause of bad breath (90% of cases) is poor dental hygiene. In most cases, it is caused by a build up of bacteria in the mouth, as a result of bits of trapped food, plaque or gum disease. It is the bacteria which releases the smelly gases.

Correct and regular brushing is very important to keep your breath smelling sweet. Bad breath often occurs after eating strongly flavoured foods, such as onions and garlic. Smoking, drinking a lot of alcohol and eating spicy food can also cause breath to smell unpleasant.

We have helped many patients overcome bad breath.

Frequently asked questions

How do I know if I have halitosis?

It can be difficult to know whether you have bad breath or not. Bad breath tends to be noticed by other people first, and it may be difficult for them to tell you that you have it without embarrassing you. Or themselves. You could ask a friend or family member to be candid with you.

There is a simple test that you can do. It’s a little unscientific but it does seem to work. Lick the inside of your wrist. Smell it. If it doesn’t smell fresh, it’s likely that your breath doesn’t smell fresh.

But don’t despair, in 90% of cases it’s related to oral health and this is something that we can resolve together.

I am embarrassed to visit you.

This is undoubtedly a touchy subject. We are sensitive as to how our patients might be feeling and are well practiced in putting them at ease.We know that bad breath can be socially crippling and we’d hate to feel that embarrassment was preventing our patients from treating the issue and feeling confident. We are professionals and will have successfully treated patients with far worse conditions.

In feedback from some patients, they say that their relief at getting a solution completely outweighs any embarrassment they were feeling.

We don’t judge and we just want you to get it treated and move on.

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Are there medical causes of bad breath?

Only 10% of cases of bad breath are medical. Some medical causes include:

– The catarrh that is produced from a throat or chest infection.
– Infections of the throat, nose and lungs such as bronchitis or sinusitis.
– Low carbohydrate diets, such as the Atkins diet.
– Dry mouth (xerostomia): a condition that affects the flow of saliva and leads to a build up of bacteria in the mouth.
– Diabetes.
– Liver or kidney problems.
– Gastritis and food reflux.

We can treat you for the 90% of cases that are related to dental hygiene. If we rule out dental causes, we’ll refer you to your family GP or to a specialist to find out the cause.

I have morning breath but it disappears soon as I’ve brushed my teeth. I assume this is type of bad breath is normal?

Yes, this is normal. Most people find that their breath smells a little stale in the morning.There are 2 reasons. Firstly, your mouth dries up overnight. And secondly, the flow of saliva, that washes away food particles, slows down when you sleep.

Overnight, food residue, that is trapped in your mouth, is broken down by bacteria. They release an unpleasant, stale smell. Once you wake up and brush your teeth and start eating again, the flow of saliva increases again.

I have a thick coating at the back of my tongue?

This is usually a bacterial coating and can be a cause of bad breath. We can recommend a tongue cleaner which is designed to help remove the bacteria coating from it. Once the bacteria are removed, there should no longer be any smell.

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How do I prevent bad breath?

As well as maintaining a high level of oral and dental hygiene, follow these steps for sweeter breath:

– Brush your teeth at least twice a day using fluoride toothpaste. We are strong advocates of electric toothbrushes.
– Spend a minimum of two minutes brushing your teeth. Try to cover all areas, especially where the teeth meet the gum.
– Floss between your teeth to remove any trapped food
– Use an anti-sceptic mouthwash (just before bedtime)
– Use a tongue cleaner to lightly brush the back of your tongue
– Regular check-ups and cleaning appointments.

Lifestyle changes for sweet breath

– Eat breakfast.
– Eat a healthy, balanced diet and try to cut down on strongly flavoured or spicy food
– Reduce your alcohol intake
– Drink plenty of fluids and cut down on coffee.
– Chew sugar-free gum. A dry mouth can lead to bad breath and chewing gum can help stimulate saliva.
– Avoid sugary snacks between meals. This will help reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth.
– Clean your mouth after eating milk products, fish and meat
– Stop smoking if you can: http://gosmokefree.nhs.uk/

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How do you treat bad breath?

We will identify the causes of the bad breath. Treat them accordingly. And set in place a program to maintain good oral health in the future.

Sweet Breath Dental Audit
We will do an audit of your mouth and evaluate:
– The sources of bacteria in your mouth, gums, teeth and tongue.
– Your general dental fitness to see what could be causing the problem.
– Identify whether there are any medical causes to the problem e.g. tonsillitis, sinusitis, bronchitis, diabetes etc.

If bad breath is not caused by a problem in the mouth, we will refer you to your GP for further investigation.

Sweet Breath Dietary analysis

We will analyse your diet, including medications that you are taking. This is to understand whether the source of the bad breath could be dietary. E.g. Low carbohydrate diet, alcohol.

Sweet Breath Lifestyle analysis
We will discuss any lifestyle factors which could contribute. E.g. smoking, drinking, poor general health.

Sweet Breath Cleaning
If we establish that the bad breath is from bacteria and plaque, we will do a thorough clean of your mouth, including all those areas that are difficult to reach. This will leave it feeling, tasting and looking fabulously clean.

Sweet Breath Prevention Schedule
We will help you start a routine for keeping your mouth clean and fresh:

– The best way to clean your teeth and gums and show you any areas you may be missing.
– Advise you on how to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
– Recommend a regular dental cleaning and check-up schedule to help us spot signs of tooth and gum decay early on and to supplement all the good work you’re doing at home.

We have had much success in treating bad breath and we’d love to help you if you think that you have a problem.

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My floss smells. Is this bad breath?

Bad breath bacteria live all through the mouth, gums, throat and nasal areas. If you floss infrequently, bacteria will build up at your gum line. This can certainly contribute to breath issues.

I am scared of dentists

Many people are. It can take a great deal of courage to make a visit, if you’re a dental phobic. We hope that we can reassure you. Please click here for our approach to this very delicate subject.

What should I do before visiting you?

If you think you may have bad breath, try to keep a diary of all the foods you eat and list any medicines you are taking. This will help us to treat the problem.

If possible, try not to mask the problem with mouthwash before you visit us. It may make it harder for us to help you.

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