Call 07 8391 660
After hours emergency line 021 237 7399

Hamilton Dentists


Fri Oct. 2nd 2015

Q What causes bad breath?

A lot of  people suffer from bad breath problems at some time or another. In most cases the cause originates within the mouth. Bad breath is unpleasant for others and embarrassing for the person who has it. If a person has constant bad breath then this may be a result of gum disease such as Gingivitis or Periodontitis. (See blog on gum disease).

Basically it is the bacteria on our teeth and gums that cause gum disease. Think about your rubbish bin after a few days of food scraps in it. After a while it gets pretty smelly doesn't it. Well that is because of the bacteria breaking down the food particles and releasing gases. So if that happens to your rubbish then it also happens to the food particles in your mouth if they are left there without being cleaned off properly. If you have a tooth decay, this too can cause a stench. Tooth decay is the start of your tooth rotting and rotting stuff smells. Your tongue also can grow some interesting little smelly bacteria, especially at the back. This is why you must always give that a good scrub when cleaning your teeth as well.

Q How can I tell if I have bad breath?

A good indication is if you notice other people stepping back when you speak to them. They may not know how to tell you so it is easier to back off.

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 does too.

Check with your partner or a good friend.

The best thing is to have a check with your dentist. He deals with this problem everyday. It is part of his job so don't feel embarrassed because he has the solution for you.

Q How can my dentist help?

Remember that we are not all made the same and just like other parts of our bodies, so do our mouths and teeth all form differently. Some of us may have areas in our mouths that are more susceptible to bacteria and a tartar build up then others. This is why it is important to have regular check ups with your dentist so that he can watch out for these areas and treat or clean it on a regular basis in order to prevent gum disease. Your dentist can advise you of where your problem areas are and instruct you on the best way of keeping this clean. 

Q Can I prevent bad breath?

Aside from the obvious that we have gone over, to help keep your breath fresh it pays to check on your diet. A lot of  what we eat can contribute to this problem. Make sure to drink plenty of water and  also plenty of fruit and vegetables. If you do have a problem with bad breath it might pay to keep a list or diary of the foods you eat most to show your dentist when you see him. Also if you are taking any medicines this could be adding to the problem so also list these for him as well. 

If you wear dentures, take them out at night to give your mouth a chance to rest. Make sure to clean them with the recommended products that your denture specialist has told you or if unsure contact them and find out the best cleaning method to use. If you do not, then they can lose their shine and ordinary tooth paste will scratch them. Also remember to clean the surfaces that fit against your gums and palate. This will make sure that your dentures are fresh and clean. It also helps avoid the plaque build up on the dentures that causes bad breath.

Q What products are available?

 There are many products on the market to help prevent bad breath. They come along the lines of toothpastes, mouthwashes, mouth sprays. It's hard to know which is the best for your situation so again the best advice you can get is from your dentist or hygienist. You don't want to buy something that only masks the problem for 15mins or so. You want something that will help with the cleaning of your mouth to eliminate any odour causing compounds. 

These 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 fresh.

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 fresh breath.

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 bad breath?

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 leave this leaflet where the person in question is likely to see it.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!