Skip to main content

Bad Breath

Do you have a bad taste in your mouth? A white film on your tongue? Have you noticed people rubbing their noses or stepping back when you start talking? These could all be signs that you might have a problem with your breath.

If you are concerned, ask a close friend a relative if they smell anything unpleasant. They may have noticed before but avoided telling you because they didn’t want to embarrass you. You can test your breath by using this simple trick: lick your wrist, let dry, then sniff – if the smell is bad, your breath probably is as well. If you are concerned about your bad breath, please speak to one of our dental team. We are discrete and considerate in dealing with this sensitive topic, and will help you to achieve a more fresh breath.

Causes of Bad Breath

There are a number of causes of bad breath including dehydration, lifestyle habits and bacterial build-up. 

Morning Mouth: During the night our saliva levels greatly reduce. Saliva acts to cleanse and moisturise the mouth, and without it you will experience bad breath. Morning mouth is a common and normal type of bad breath. With reduced saliva your mouth becomes more dry, and so the odour-causing bacteria tend to build up. Drinking water along with brushing and flossing your teeth first thing in the morning can usually solve this problem.

Poor Oral Hygiene: Infrequent or improper brushing and flossing can leave food particles stuck around your teeth and tongue which start to decay and emit bad odours. Left for longer than a few days, this food debris will be converted by bacteria to acid that will degrade the tooth causing decay (also known as dental caries). Ultimately, a cavity will form and may cause pain. Please refer to our detailed information on keeping your mouth healthy for advice on this topic. 

Dry Mouth and Dehydration: If you are not producing enough saliva (due to medications, mouth breathing, not drinking enough water, or other factors), it will be more difficult to rinse your mouth of food particles which will be converted by bacteria to acid. We recommend that you drink plenty (6-8 glasses) of water per day to optimise your salivary flow. For patients suffering from chronic dry mouth (also known as xerostomia), we recommend a regime of sipping on water, salivary substitutes (e.g. Biotene), mouth washes and gels to help improve the moisture in your mouth.

Smoking and Tobacco Use: Tobacco causes its own form of bad breath due to a combination of dry mouth, the scent of the tobacco itself, bacteria build up and tongue coating. We can offer support on reducing the quantity and frequency of your smoking. We ultimately advise patients to quit smoking as it has many relevant health risks.

Infections: Bad breath can be a sign of infections in the mouth such a periodontal disease (gum disease) or dental decay (caries). In addition, bad breath could also be a sign of throat, sinus or lung infections. Please make an appointment with our team if you believe you have an infection brewing.

Certain Foods and Drinks: There are foods which are known to cause unpleasant odours in the mouth such as: coffee, alcohol, onions and garlic. Reducing these foods, using mouthwash and practising optimum at-home care will reduce their effect on your breath.

Tips for Fresh Breath

  • Brush your teeth twice a day (morning and last thing at night) to remove any food particles or plaque that may be left inside the mouth.
  • Floss or use an interdental brush to remove food from between your teeth once per day. This is the most common area that food gets trapped and causes decay.
  • Brush or scrape your tongue to remove bacteria from the surface. You can use your regular toothbrush or a specially designed tongue scraper.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.
  • If you smoke, try to cut down, and speak to us today about quitting.
  • If you wear dentures, make sure you clean them twice a day using plain soap with water and a brush. You should also clean the insides of your mouth and tongue each day. Rinse your denture after each meal. Ensure you leave your denture out at night, stored in a glass of water.
  • Use alcohol-free mouthwash during the day if you want to freshen up after lunch.
  • Chew sugar-free gum to help stimulate saliva production which will help to rinse your mouth.
  • See the dentist and hygienist regularly to be screened for any infections and to have a professional cleaning.
  • Avoid sugary food and drink and make healthier choices in your diet.

If you follow this advice but find that you still have persistent bad breath that does not go away, it is a good idea to speak to the dentist to see if there might be another underlying cause. Keep a record of all the food you are eating and the medicines you are taking. This information can help the dentist suggest ways to solve the problem. Most importantly, do not be embarrassed.

Any questions?

We are experienced and sympathetic in dealing with each patient’s anxieties and pride ourselves on developing a personal relationship with our patients.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.