Top tips for preventing bad breath

Patients often come to me concerned that they might have bad breath (halitosis). It’s a bit of a social taboo, people feel uncomfortable pointing it out to us and unfortunately it can be hard to detect for ourselves. A useful tip is to lick the back of your hand or wrist and wait until it dries, if it smells unpleasant then it is likely you have bad breath.

Woman covering mouth

There can be many causes, whether it be related to dental conditions, medical conditions, foods or habits. Here are a few examples;

  • Poor oral hygiene, periodontal (gum) disease, dental abscesses, diabetes, stomach and digestion problems, sinus and throat infections, fungal infections, dehydration, food odours, smoking.

These are my top tips to help prevent bad breath:

  1. Good brushing – for at least 2 minutes twice a day and change your brush every 3 months.
  2. Cleaning between the teeth with dental products such as floss or interdental brushes once a day removes the food and plaque which contributes to bad breath.
  3. Tongue Cleaner – the tongue is a great place to harbour bacteria so a tool such as a tongue scraper or alternatively a tooth brush is a good way to reduce the build up.
  4. Stop smoking – as well as other health implications it also causes bad breath.
  5. Chew sugar free gum after meals as an alternative to mints to help stimulate saliva flow thus reducing food particles and plaque.
  6. Mouthwashes and sprays – products on the market such as Ultradex or CB12 work by eliminating and preventing the volatile sulphur compounds linked to bad breath. Mouthwashes should be used at a separate time to brushing.
  7. Maintain a healthy balanced diet.
  8. Avoid or reduce foods/drinks that are known to cause odours; garlic, raw onion, alcohol, coffee
  9. Keep hydrated – drink plenty of water to help lubricate the mouth.
  10. See your dental clinician to help determine the cause of the problem as it may be something that can be treated.
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