Lifestyle & Health: Causes, treatment for bad breath!

September 11, 2016

Dear Readers,

Melodie writes Check Up from a St Catherine address. She is 40 years old and self-employed. Melodie says that she is always worried that people can smell her breath. She has had a problem with bad breath for many years now. Sometimes other people smell it also, sometimes they don't seem to but she is just tired of the bad breath! She has already seen an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist and is still not happy with the result so she has decided to try Check Up! Check Up will try to assist!

Bad breath or halitosis refers to an unpleasant mouth odour. The causes of mouth odour are widely diverse and not always confined to the oral (mouth) area!

Causes of bad breath will include food products, tobacco smoking, poor dental hygiene, tonsillar stones, dry mouth, acid reflux, sinus infections, medications being used, and other medical conditions! The other causes, away from the mouth, is why just looking after the teeth and gums with a dental visit is not always enough to get rid of bad breath!

The food we eat can be a real source of a lingering bad odour in the mouth. Lovers of coffee and other acidic drinks and beverages may experience a slightly bitter taste and smell in the mouth after drinking these liquids.

Garlic and onions are famous for odorous mouths but spicy foods, curry, some cheeses and even some fish products can also leave a residual odour for a while. Food can get stuck between the teeth and begin to decay producing an odour. The majority of people don't use dental floss after eating to prevent this problem. Low carb diets can also result in "ketone" breath which gives an acetone smell to the breath so Atkin's dieters should watch out for this.

Tobacco smoking leaves chemicals in the mouth which can cause odours. Also, tobacco smoking can lead to gum disease, infection and bad mouth odours.

Poor dental care with plaque build-up on teeth causes a bad mouth odour and this condition can also cause gum disease and infection associated with mouth odour.

A post nasal drip related to sinus congestion can promote the formation of tonsillar stones which are really bad smelling concretions found in the tonsil crevices. Acid reflux and liver disease may bring the bile smell into the mouth resulting in a mouth odour. Saliva tends to clean the mouth so dry mouth is associated with bad breath and may need a medical diagnosis and treatment.

Loose fitting dentures and teeth braces can also trap food which can rotten and cause bad breath. Of course tooth cavities do this also.

Medications such as antihistamines and diuretics can dry the mouth and contribute to bad breath!
Children also get bad breath from objects which they have stuck in their noses (like peas)!

Treatments for bad breath include:
" Proper dental hygiene. Brushing the teeth in the morning and at bed time and after eating. Using dental floss between the teeth after eating. Brush the tongue also.
" Have dentures and braces checked for a proper fit and keep them clean.
" Stop smoking.
" Keep the mouth moist by drinking enough water and chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless candy to stimulate saliva production. Mouth wash temporarily masks the bad odour but does not solve the problem.
" Avoid foods which cause bad breath odours.
" Chew on mint or parsley leaves.
" Treat underlying medical conditions like sinus infection of acid reflux.
" If bad breath develops after starting a new medication then consult your doctor but don't suddenly stop your medication.
" Replace tooth brush every three months
" See dentist twice yearly for check-up.

Write to:
Check Up,
PO Box 1731,
KGN 8 or email:  


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