At some point in time, most of us have bad breath. Usually, this situation can be easily rectified with a simple swish of mouthwash or by brushing and flossing.
However, for some people, the awful smell persists for weeks, if not months!
Stubborn bad breath can make you feel awkward in social situations, cause emotional distress, and lower your self-esteem. It can be embarrassing and tough on those around you.
A 26-year-old female DoctorxDentist reader wrote in to share her story. She revealed that she has been having bad breathe since she was 9. Despite implementing an extensive dental hygiene routine involving flossing and tongue scraping, she feels that the scent has only gotten worse.
Unhealthy gums or teeth can lead to bad breath
The most obvious culprits for bad breath would involve unhealthy gums that haven't been checked or untreated open cavities that lead to the production of foul odours.
Of course, if you're thorough with your dental hygiene, the source may be altogether different.
Your dentist should detect the underlying cause
Since bad breath is primarily caused by the presence of gum disease and tooth decay, it's normal for your dentist to pick up on the underlying cause during a routine examination/visit.
Make sure you see the dentist regularly as treatment could eliminate bad breath completely.
Typically, it all boils down to one thing; Bacteria
Bacteria that live on the surfaces of our teeth usually plays a large role in bad breath. This bacteria breaks down protein and in turn, produces strong smelling gases that mix with the air that we exhale.
There are not-so-typical causes of bad breath too
Less common causes of bad breath do exist and may be slightly harder to pinpoint. These include a dry mouth or mouth breathing, a high protein diet, and frequent caffeine consumption.
Also, post nasal dripping (when mucus leaks from the back of the nose into the throat) is a possibility.
They all share 2 things in common
At the core of the issue, possibilities for the cause/causes of bad breath share 2 things in common.
Dryness in the mouth (lack of saliva) or increased protein levels in the saliva so consider these other causes of bad breath (assuming that you've been cleared of dental disease).
Chronic mouth breathing can lead to bad breath
A lot of patients that come to Dr Jaclyn are usually chronic mouth breathers who also experience chronic nasal congestion either from allergies or sinusitis.
In these instances, patients report worst smelling breath in the mornings after a night's sleep.
There are several ways to optimise your oral health
Your mouth's natural defence mechanisms can be boosted relatively simply.
Avoid foaming toothpaste, avoid alcohol-containing mouth rinses (they strip the lining of the mouth and worsen dryness) and reduce caffeine consumption to prevent dry mouth.
Also, add more veggies to your meals
Switching to a high plant-based diet can help tremendously with reducing bad breath compared to high protein diets that can increase the possibility of bad breath.
Probiotics may work to manage bad breath
When it comes to probiotics, they are still a relatively new method of bad breath management.
The new dental probiotic (BioGaia) has shown promising results but other conventional probiotics may not work as well because the bacterial species they use that are found in a healthy gut may not correspond with good bacteria species found in the mouth.
Bad breath can be managed as long as you're aware of the underlying causes and act swiftly to tackle them. Take Dr Jaclyn's advice and consult a qualified dentist for suitable solutions.
1. Porter, SR and C Scully. “Oral malodour (halitosis)” BMJ (Clinical research ed.) vol. 333,7569 Sep 2006.
2. Aylıkcı, B. U., & Colak, H. Halitosis: From diagnosis to management. Journal of natural science, biology, and medicine, 4(1), 14-23. Jun 2013.