Asked Questions > Bad Breath
|Q: What causes
A: Most people have bad breath
problems at some time or another, and
in 9 out of 10 cases the cause originates
within the mouth. Bad breath can be
a social problem, unpleasant for others
and embarrassing for the person who
has it. Research shows that it may also
disease, such as gingivitis or periodontitis.
Therefore, a comprehensive oral hygiene
regime is very important to keep your
breath smelling fresh.
bacteria on teeth and
The bacteria on our teeth and gums (plaque)
also cause gum disease and tooth decay. Visiting
your dentist regularly will not only help
you to achieve fresher breath, but will also
allow the dentist to check for and treat gum
disease and tooth decay.
|Q: How can
I tell if I have bad breath?
A: Lots of small signals can
show that you have bad breath. Have
you noticed people stepping away when
you start to talk?
If you think you might have bad breath,
there is a simple test that you can
do. Simply lick the inside of your unscented
wrist and sniff – if the smell
is bad, you can be pretty sure that
your breath is too.
Or, ask a very good friend to be absolutely
honest, but do make sure they are a
Volatile Sulphur Compounds (VSC)
Q: How can my dentist help?
A: If you do have bad breath, you will
need to start a routine for keeping your mouth
clean and fresh. Regular check-ups will allow
your dentist to watch out for any areas where
plaque is caught between your teeth. Your
dentist or hygienist will be able to clean
all those areas that are difficult to reach.
They will also be able to show you the best
way to clean your teeth and gums, and show
you any areas you may be missing, including
One of the early warning signs of gum disease
is that you may have bad breath or a bad taste
in your mouth. Again, your dentist or hygienist
will be able to see and treat the problem
during your regular check-ups. The earlier
the problems are found, the more effective
the treatment will be.
Q: Can I prevent bad breath?
A: To keep your breath fresh, gum disease
(if present) must be treated and an effective
oral hygiene regime adopted. Also, drink water
often and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
If you do have bad breath, try keeping a diary
of all the foods you eat and list any medicines
you are taking, which could be adding to the
problem. Take this diary to your dentist who
may be able to suggest ways to resolve your
Brush your teeth and gums twice a day, and
don’t forget to cleanse your tongue
as well. Use dental floss once a day for cleaning
between your teeth. There are other products
you can buy to clean between your teeth. These
are called ‘interdental cleaners’.
If you wear dentures, take them out at night
to give your mouth a chance to rest. Do not
clean them with toothpaste as it will scratch
the surface and more stains will build up.
They will also lose their shine. Hold them
over a bowl of water or a towel in case you
drop them. Clean them thoroughly with a denture
cream, denture cleaning tablet or denture
cleaning powder. Use a denture brush kept
just for this purpose. Remember to clean the
surfaces that fit against your gums and palate.
This will make sure your dentures are always
fresh and clean, and avoid the plaque build-up
on the dentures that may cause bad breath.
Q: What products are available?
A: There are many specialised oral care products
available, which come as toothpaste, oral
rinse and in a spray. Using these will help
you clean your teeth, give you fresher breath
and the confidence to keep you smiling all
day long. These products are designed to eliminate,
not mask, odour-causing compounds. Ask your
dentist for details.
The specialist products contain a safe, effective,
antibacterial formula to fight plaque and,
as part of a daily oral hygiene programme,
will help keep your mouth healthy, clean and
Mouth Rinses - you have the choice
between those containing alchohol, or not,
with sweetner or without and flavoured or
non flavoured. Most mouth rinses are designed
to last up to eight hours.
Oral sprays - are convenient for your
pocket, handbag, car or whenever you are away
from the bathroom and want reassurance of
Toothpaste – some do not contain
sodium lauryl sulphate (a foaming detergent)
and therefore non-foaming. This means your
mouth does not fill up with suds, as is the
case with most normal toothpastes, and you
can continue cleaning your teeth for longer,
which is preferred by many dental professionals.
Q: How do they work?
A: Even in the cleanest mouth, odour-causing
molecules known as Volatile Sulphur Compounds
(VSC) are constantly being produced by the
natural breakdown of bacteria, human cells
and food debris.
Ordinary toothpastes and mouthwashes only
cover up these compounds with a more pleasant
smell or flavour. The VSC are still present,
causing odour in the mouth. However, the ingredients
in the specialist toothpaste, oral rinse and
spray actually changes the structure of the
VSC molecules, rendering them odourless.
With regular use, the specialist oral care
range can help assure you of cleaner teeth,
a healthier mouth and fresher breath.
Q: What else causes bad breath?
A: Bad breath can also be caused by some medical
problems. Dry mouth (xerostomia) is a condition
that affects the flow of saliva. This causes
bacteria to build up in the mouth, leading
to bad breath. Dry mouth may be caused by
some medicines, salivary gland problems or
by continually breathing through the mouth
instead of the nose. Also, older people naturally
produce less saliva.
If you suffer from dry mouth, your dentist
may be able to recommend or prescribe an artificial
saliva product or suggest other ways of dealing
with the problem.
Other medical conditions that cause bad breath
include infections in the throat, nose or
lungs, sinusitis, bronchitis, diabetes or
liver or kidney problems. If your dentist
finds that your mouth is healthy, you may
be referred to your family GP or a specialist
to find out the cause of your bad breath.
Remember, only 10% of bad breath problems
originate from outside the mouth.
Tobacco also causes its own form of bad breath.
The only solution in this case is to stop
smoking. As well as making your breath smell,
smoking causes staining, loss of taste and
irritates the gums. People who smoke are more
likely to suffer from gum disease and also
have a greater risk of developing cancer of
the mouth, lung cancer and heart disease.
Ask your dentist, pharmacist or practice nurse
for help in quitting. If you do stop smoking,
but still have bad breath, then you need to
see your dentist or GP for advice.
Q: How can I tell someone they have
A: Chances are we all know someone who has
bad breath, but very few people feel brave
enough to discuss the problem. It is obviously
a very delicate matter to tell someone they
have bad breath. There is always the risk
that they will be offended or embarrassed
and may never speak to you again!
However, it is always worth remembering that
the bad breath may be the result of any number
of problems. Once the person knows they have
bad breath, they can deal with whatever is
causing it. You could try talking to their
partner or a family member, as the bad breath
may be caused by a medical condition, which
is already being treated.
You may like to tell
a friend about this website. Remember,
the bad news is that oral malodour is a serious
social plight and can sometimes be an indication
that there is something medically amiss. The
good news, however, is that it is treatable!
of the dentist? Our Leeds dentist
provides sedation for nervous dental patients.