What is Bad Breath?

Bad breath can be caused by gum disease, but even with good oral hygiene and healthy teeth, you could still have bad breath. It is the bacteria in the mouth that usually causes bad breath and is not a sign of general ill health. As your mouth gets drier, the smell usually gets stronger and comes from the far back of the tongue. Sometimes the smell comes from the nose. Around a quarter of adults suffer from bad breath regularly and almost all adults will occasionally suffer from it.

What can my dentist do?

  • Your dentist will be able to tell where any problem is coming from, as long as you have not done anything to hide the normal smell of your breath before you see your dentist. For example, do not smoke, chew gum or use a mouth rinse and avoid any sort of perfume.
  • A plastic spoon may be used to gently scrape the back of your tongue and test the smell.
  • Instruments can be used to measure sulphur compounds in the mouth or swelling around the gums.
  • A scale and polish can be provided by your dentist or hygienist. This makes it easier for you to keep your mouth clean at home and is usually the answer to a bad breath problem.

What can I do myself?

  • Use a fluoride toothpaste and brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day.
  • Your dentist may recommend oral hygiene aids such as floss for you to use.
  • If your tongue is heavily coated, then gently brush it with your toothbrush.
  • Once you have flossed an area of the mouth, if you smell the floss then you can check if your bad breath is coming from a particular part of the mouth. This then enables you to clean that area with special care.
  • Chewing sugar-free gum increases the flow of saliva, which can help with bad breath as a mouth will smell less if it is moist. A dry mouth can also be caused by taking certain medicines, or by breathing with your mouth open and also gets drier as you get older.
  • If you smoke, try to give up. This protects your general health and will not only make your breath smell better, but also keep your mouth and gums healthy too.