Bad Breath (Halitosis)
What is bad breath?
Bad breath is the result of sulphur-producing bacteria that releases an unpleasant odour. About 2.4% of the adult population suffers from bad breath.
What causes bad breath?
Aside from sulphur-producing bacteria, there are other causes of bad breath such as:
- Lifestyle choices: These may be things such as smoking or frequent alcohol consumption.
- Diet: Certain foods you eat may contribute to bad breath, such as garlic. Although this is more of a short-term symptom.
- Poor oral health. If you are not flossing, or brushing your teeth and tongue on a daily basis, the food you have consumed remains and causes an unpleasant odour. Eventually, this will create and sticky film, known as plaque, that will irritate gums and cause further health ramifications such as gum disease that can further alter your overall health. If dentures are not cleaned regularly they will also harbour harmful bacteria.
- Medications: Medications can dry out the mouth causing bad breath as the oral cavity is much more acidic.
So when is it time to see a dentist?
If at first you have tried to change lifestyle habits such as cutting down on smoking or changing the foods you consume, avoiding foods such as onion, and bad breath is still persisting it is best to see your dentist as this may be a symptom of a serious underlying illness such as gum disease. We advise keeping your visits with your dentist regularly, every 6 months. If your dentist is seeing you on a regular basis, this allows them to have the ability to maintain and prevent more serious conditions.
How can a dentist help me?
A dentist will assess the situation, diagnose and help create a plan to treat the cause of bad breath. The dentist may advise:
- Dietary advice and oral hygiene management to help improve this may involve a scale and clean (above the gum) OR root planing (clean below the gums in the circumstance of gum disease).
- If the dentist believes it is not of an oral origin they may refer to the appropriate health service