Bad Breath (Halitosis)

How gum disease, poor oral hygiene and volatile sulphur compounds can cause bad breath – and what to do about it.

Avoid bad breath
There are several causes of bad breath, but often, it’s caused by sulfur-producing bacteria in the tongue and throat. It’s easier for this bacteria to proliferate if we have a dry mouth, poor oral hygiene, a coated tongue, eat certain foods or smoke.

Sulphur-producing compounds can be particularly unpleasant – those horrible odours that come from sweaty feet, rotten eggs and meat, toilet smells – all come from sulphur compounds. And these same chemical compounds live on your tongue.

Where do all the smells come from? The answer is bacteria. We all have bacteria living in our mouth but at different levels. Keep the concentration low, and you won’t have bad breath. Let the concentration escalate, and you will have bad breath.

Understanding bacteria

The bacteria that live in our mouth excrete waste products. And some common types of oral bacteria omit smelly sulphur compounds which are usually the cause of bad breath.

The main three sulphur compounds found in bad breath are quite commonly known:

  • hydrogen sulphide – the familiar smell of rotten eggs
  • methyl mercaptan – the smell found in barnyards
  • dimethyl sulphide – the strong odour smelt sometimes near the ocean

A variety of different factors can cause bad breath. Commonly it can be caused by sulfur-producing bacteria that colonise on the back of your tongue. However, dental diseases such as gum disease (periodontitis) or poor oral hygiene can also contribute to bad breath. A dry mouth, caused by stress or medication can also cause halitosis, as can smoking.

Water for fresher breath

“..dental diseases such as gum disease (periodontitis) or poor oral hygiene can also contribute to bad breath…”

How to keep bad breath at bay

Brush and floss regularly

Brushing and flossing regularly removes debris that bacteria can feed off. Brushing and flossing also help to eliminate plaque and calculus – both of which can cause gum disease and cavities.

Have a regular dental scale & clean

A scale and clean will remove plaque – a sticky bacteria-filled substance that adheres to the teeth, and calculus – which is essentially hardened plaque.

Drink plenty of water

Try to stay healthy and avoid sinus infections – sinus infections are a common cause of bad breath

Avoid gum disease

A major cause of bad breath is both gingivitis and periodontitis (gum disease). In fact, the odour can be so distinctive that a dentist can often diagnose gum disease just by the breath odour. So if you want to avoid gum disease and bad breath, make sure you have regular professional scale cleans.

Don’t smoke

Smokers usually have poorer dental hygiene the non-smokers as the lack of oxygen encourages anaerobic bacteria production

If you wear dentures or implant-supported dentures

Keep them clean and free from bacterial build-up

Book a Professional Scale & Clean Today

Marketplace Dental is registered with all health funds and is a preferred provider with BUPA, HCF and Medibank Private.

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