Are you worried about your breath? Bad breath (also called halitosis) affects most people from time to time, but it's usually temporary.
If your breath problem doesn't go away, it could be a sign of a more serious problem – so you'll need to treat the cause and not just the symptoms.
What causes bad breath?
Bad breath may be temporary (usually related to diet or lifestyle) or it can be a symptom of an underlying problem. Since we can't smell our own breath reliably, you should ask someone to tell you the truth about your breath odour to see if you really have a problem.
Odours from pungent food and drink can enter the lungs through the bloodstream, so they may still be present on your breath even after you brush your teeth. The same goes for tobacco products, which also increase your oral health risks. Avoiding these foods and quitting smoking should improve your breath instantly.
Longer-term halitosis may be caused by:
- bacteria in the throat or under the tongue
- not brushing and flossing your teeth properly
- not properly cleaning braces, dentures or other oral appliances
- gum disease, oral infections or other oral health problems
- dry mouth syndrome (a side-effect of some medications)
- other health problems, such as acid reflux or metabolic disorders
Home remedies for bad breath
It's not always possible to treat bad breath yourself, depending on what's causing it, but improving your oral hygiene is always a good start! Our dentists in Auckland recommend:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes, using fluoride toothpaste
- Brush your tongue with the back of your toothbrush or a specialist tongue scraper
- Floss between your teeth to clean all plaque and leftover food remnants
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially tap water containing fluoride
- Avoid food and drink that's high in sugar, as this contributes to tooth decay and gum disease
- Clean braces, dentures or other oral appliances thoroughly, following your dentist's advice
- Quit smoking and drink less alcohol to avoid drying out your mouth
- Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva and help to relieve odours
- Visit your dentist every 6 to 12 months for your regular check-up and teeth cleaning
When should I see a dentist about bad breath?
If you've tried home remedies and your bad breath doesn't go away, you should make an appointment with your dentist. They will examine your teeth, gums, mouth and throat for any tell-tale signs of problems and may be able to recommend appropriate treatments. These could include:
- dental hygiene treatments to remove plaque and apply fluoride to your teeth for protection
- prescribing an antibacterial toothpaste or mouthwash to include in your daily oral care routine
- treatment for gum disease, dry mouth syndrome or other conditions
If your dentist doesn't think your breath problem is related to oral health, they'll recommend that you make an appointment with your general doctor. They can hopefully diagnose the problem and arrange treatment or refer you to a specialist who can.
Talk to our dentists in St Heliers
If you're worried about bad breath or you want to see a dentist in Auckland for any other reason, contact St Heliers Dental Centre today to book an appointment at a convenient time.