Bad Breath

Bad Breath

An important face to face conversation is coming up, quick checklist in the head: is my brain functioning, am I prepared, is there something in my teeth, have I got bad breath?

The replies are: as much as usual, I’ll work it out as we talk, no, how do I tell?

The popular methods of breathing into your cupped hand or licking the back of your hand do not work because we either under estimate (over confidence) or over estimate (paranoia). So the most accurate method is to find someone who can tell you the truth and breathe on them.

Causes of Bad Breath

In 90% of cases the odour originates in the mouth itself, either from what you have chosen to eat or from the local bacteria that produce bad odours as a byproduct.

Dental problems: decay and gum disease create places for food to linger in and around the teeth. This provides a food source for even more bacteria leading to more bad smells

Dry mouth: a good saliva flow flushes out the mouth, preventing bacteria from multiplying. A decreased saliva flow may be due to insufficient fluid intake, using alcohol based mouth rinses, aging, and numerous medications. A dry mouth naturally occurs during sleep, leading to morning breath.

Stinky foods: garlic, onions, cheese, etc. The bacteria in our mouths tend to give off higher volumes of smelly gases when they decompose proteins, so if bits of meat get stuck between your teeth, your risk of having bad breath is significantly increased.

Furry tongue: a white layer on the back of the tongue means even more bacteria

Post nasal drip or sinus infections: some of this gross stuff ends up in the mouth.

Illness: occasionally, bad breath can be a sign of a more serious illness. The most common systemic causes of bad breath are diabetes and GORD (gastro oesophageal reflux disease).


Smoking: dries out your mouth and causes its own unpleasant mouth odour. Tobacco users are also more likely to have periodontal disease, an additional source of bad breath.

Top Five Cures

Keep it clean: brush twice a day, floss, and if you have a furry tongue - brush it as well.

Keep it moist: drink plenty of water, at least 1½ litres of water per day.

Watch what you eat: if caught out, use sugarless chewing gum to stimulate saliva flow.

Visit the dentist: Somebody with good dental hygiene who continues having bad breath may have an underlying dental problem.

See your doctor: if despite all the above you still have bad breath then check with your doctor to see if he or she suspects a more serious cause.

Breath fresheners only work for a short period of time and just mask the problem.

Breathe on someone you trust to tell you the truth - this may not necessarily be a friend

Do not allow the number of bacteria in your mouth to reach plague proportions or people will be getting a physical reaction from your talking rather than a mental one!


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