Bad Breath: Common Causes & Remedies

Lim Muhammad Syazwan By Lim Muhammad Syazwan

Did someone tell you that you have bad breath? Have you tried thinking of polite ways to inform your family member or friend or significant other that he/she has bad breath? Has bad breath affected your relationship? These are some of the common scenarios experienced when it comes to the tricky issue of bad breath.

Bad Breath, or otherwise medically knows as Halitosis, may be something that you don’t realise you have. One of the best ways to know if you have bad breath is by asking a family member, close friend or your significant other if you do have bad breath.

Common causes of bad breath include the following:

  1. Poor Oral Hygiene – The most common cause of bad breath. Due to irregular brushing or flossing of your teeth, remnant food particles in the mouth and plaque build-up can cause bad odours to be emitted from the mouth. This might even lead to other more serious dental problems like gum disease.
  2. Dry Mouth or Xerostomia – Saliva is the main medium to moisten the mouth, neutralize acids in the mouth from plaque/food particles, and wash away debris. Without saliva, these unwanted particles remain in the mouth and emit a foul odour resulting in bad breath. It may also be a side effect of multiple medications being taken, salivary gland problems or mouth breathing.
  3. Certain types of Food – Examples include garlic, onion, dairy, meat, fish and sugary food. Even caffeinated drinks (coffee) and alcoholic drinks will cause dry mouth.
  4. Dental problems/Oral infections – Gum disease, dental cavities, or yeast infections due to poorly-fitting dental appliances.
  5. Smoking or other Tobacco products – Cigarettes and other tobacco products are known to encourage the growth of foul-smelling bacteria in your mouth.
  6. Health problems – Bad breath could be an indication that you might also be suffering from health problems, e.g. diabetes, gastric reflux, respiratory tract infections, sinus infections, liver or kidney problems.

Remedies for bad breath include:

  1. Good Oral Hygiene – This comprises brushing twice daily and cleaning the areas in between your teeth using dental floss or an interdental brush every night before you sleep. A mouthwash will help only when brushing and cleaning interdentally are done first. Those with dentures should remove them every night. Do remember to also brush your dentures and immerse them in water when not wearing them. Tongue scrapers can also be used as an adjunct tool.
  2. Drinking lots of Water – At least 8 cups a day. Keeping the mouth moist helps to wash away food particles and bacteria. Even rinsing the mouth regularly with water will help.
  3. Changing Bad Habits – E.g. Quit smoking/use of tobacco products and reduce consumption of alcohol.
  4. Avoiding food that causes Bad Breath – Instead, you could consume more fibrous food and vegetables, which help moisten the mouth.
  5. Seeing the Dentist Regularly – It is recommended to see your dentist at least twice a year for an oral examination and professional teeth cleaning (scaling and polishing). The dentist is usually the best person to identify the cause of your bad breath, and even give you solutions to the problem.

Don’t neglect your oral health any longer. If you or someone close to you suffers from bad breath, do carry out the simple remedies as stated above or make an appointment with your dentist to achieve a brighter and fresher smile that everyone is meant to have!

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