Bad breath (Halitosis) | 3 min read

Bad breath is probably the biggest turn-off in any social setting. Here is how to practice healthy oral hygiene habits, and be comfortable and confident anytime, anywhere.

Halitosis is the medical term for an unpleasant odour from the mouth, commonly referred to as bad breath. Temporary bad breath is usually caused by bacteria and smelly compounds found in certain food that resolves within 24 hours after the food is fully digested. Chronic bad breath, however, might be a symptom of an underlying problem.

Bacteria break down food debris, which creates by-products called volatile sulphur compounds that emit a smell like rotten eggs. These bacteria consume food and excrete waste, which usually lies at the root of a person’s bad breath problems.

Bacteria need an environment free of oxygen (anaerobic), therefore they live in areas that are difficult to reach such as pockets around the teeth, grooves in the tongue, and especially on the back of the tongue.

The main causes of bad breath and hygiene practices tips:

Dry mouth: The perfect environment for bacteria causing bad breath.
A dry mouth has less saliva. Mouth breathing dries out the mouth (and is often the cause of ‘morning breath’. Healthy saliva levels help clear food particles from the mouth and keep the tongue clean.
Tip: Drink 8 glasses of water a day and gargle/rinse with a mouthwash.

Certain foods: Bad breath bacteria have favourite foods. Food proteins get converted into smelly sulphur compounds by bacteria which thrive in this acidic environment with plenty of sugars to use as high energy fuel
Tip: Reduce the intake of fish, coffee, spiced food, onion, garlic, alcohol as well as sugary and acidic drinks.

Dental problems: Poor dental hygiene causes plaque build-up which leads to gum disease and tooth decay. Bacteria convert the proteins in the blood and diseased gum tissue to stinky sulphur compounds.
Tip: Brush your teeth and tongue regularly and visit the dentist every six months for a check-up and professional cleaning.

Illness and disease: Many diseases like cancer or lung disease can cause the production of saliva to slow down which creates a perfect low oxygen environment.
Tip: Stop smoking and eat a healthy diet which includes fibre.

Other factors that can cause bad breath are hunger, having braces or dentures.

Home remedies for halitosis

  • Stimulate your salivary flow. Prevent dry mouth by having sugar-free chewing gum, lozenges, or sugar-free mints at hand.
  • Gargle with saltwater. This reduces postnasal drip and mucus in the throat.
  • Occasionally brush with baking soda. It neutralises excess acids in your oral cavity, preventing      aerobic bacteria from having an environment in which they can thrive.
  • Eat an apple after each meal. It freshens breath and removes large food particles between teeth.

If you have bad breath, a trip to the dentist can solve the problem entirely. An oral hygienist will do a thorough deep cleaning on your teeth and gums, removing all the bacteria and plaque. This will greatly improve your breath. Your dentist can also identify symptoms of gum disease and can tell you the source of your bad breath.

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