How to Get Rid of Bad Breath

What is bad breath?

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a self-explanatory condition.  Your breath smells.  That’s it.

It’s not hard to imagine the impact bad breath can have on your life.  Even if you don’t notice it yourself, your friends, family and colleagues will.  Conversations will grow shorter and more strained.  You’ll probably find people start to keep their distance when talking with you – maybe they’ll make excuses to keep interactions short and impersonal.

Self-consciousness and anxiety often go hand-in-hand with bad breath, so it’s not surprising that combating this unpleasant condition is a top priority for many of us.  Think about it.  Toothpastes, mouthwashes, gum sticks, mints … all loaded with fresh flavours to give our breath a pleasant smell.

Unfortunately, these are temporary solutions, designed for fighting coffee breath or prepping us for important meetings.  The underlying causes of chronic halitosis are what need to be managed, and that’s what we’re going to talk about in this article.

Keep reading to find out the main causes of bad breath and five ways you can easily treat it.

What causes bad breath?

Like many oral conditions, bad breath doesn’t have a single cause.  There’s plenty of different factors that contribute to keeping our mouths clean, so it makes sense that a disruption of any of these factors can lead to unpleasant consequences.

Food

One of the most common causes of bad breath is food.  Most of us already take precautions against this – it’s why we don’t eat garlic-packed dishes on a first date, or cook onions with our breakfast.

The majority of food-related bad breath is caused by food particles being trapped between your teeth.  As the particles begin to break down, they release unpleasant odours, which is one reason why flossing is so important.

Certain types of food don’t actually need to stay in your mouth to start causing problems – they contain compounds which release unpleasant smells as your body digests them.  Garlic, onions, horseradish, seafood, some spices and certain cheeses are all big bad breath culprits.  If you suffer from chronic bad breath, avoid eating them, or you risk making your condition worse.

Dry Mouth

Sufferers of severe dry mouth (also known as xerostomia) are also likely to be affected by bad breath.  Because saliva plays such a critical role in removing food particles, balancing pH levels and fighting bad bacteria, producing less of it means your mouth is vulnerable to halitosis-causing problems [1].

A mild form of dry mouth occurs naturally as we sleep, which is made worse if we breath heavily through our mouths.  Ever wondered why you get ‘morning breath’? It’s from the effects of overnight dry mouth, which, in turn, causes temporary bad breath [2].

Bacteria

If you don’t clean your teeth and tongue regularly, you can quickly find yourself a victim of sulphur-emitting oral bacteria [3].  Next time you’re in front of a mirror, check your mouth.  A white coating on your tongue, particularly towards the back, can mean these bacteria are present and contributing to bad breath.  Other tell-tale signs include plaque building up around your teeth, thick saliva, and a sour or metallic taste in your mouth.

Smoking

Tobacco has a very strong, distinct smell, and, when smoked or chewed, can stain your tongue and contribute to bad breath.

Medication

Some medications and vitamin supplements can cause bad breath because they release odorous chemicals while being digested.  If you think a non-essential supplement is the reason for your bad breath, try lowering the dosage.

Infections or other health conditions

Many oral infections or chronic health conditions also cause bad breath.  Certain cancers, acid reflux, inflammation of the nose, sinuses or throat, tooth decay, gum disease and types of metabolic disorders have all been associated with bad breath.

Treatments for Bad Breath

You can mask bad breath by chewing fragrant herbs and using gum or mints, but it’s also important to address the underlying issues which cause it.

Brush your teeth

The easiest way to minimise bad breath is to make sure your dental hygiene is effective and consistent.  Brush your teeth twice a day (after breakfast and dinner), and use dental floss to remove food particles trapped between your teeth.

Anti-bacterial toothpastes, a good toothbrush, high-quality floss and mouthwash will all help combat sulphur-producing bacteria.  It’s also important to make sure you clean your tongue properly – if you have a thickly-coated tongue, consider using a tongue scraper to remove excess build-up.

Avoid odour-causing foods

This is just common sense.  If your breath already smells, don’t make it worse by eating garlic, onions or any of the other foods we mentioned.

Stop smoking

Everyone knows smoking has a range of adverse health affects, and bad breath is one of those.  Unless you quit, you’ll continue to suffer ‘smoker’s breath’ (in addition to all the other oral conditions it causes).

Regular dental check-ups

Because bad breath has so many different causes, regularly visiting your dentist is one of the best preventative measures.  Oral healthcare professionals will clean your teeth, remove plaque build-up, check for infections and give you advice on how to improve your mouthcare routine.

Minimise dry mouth

Dry mouth, like bad breath, has a variety of causes, but most treatments focus on rehydration (so your body can produce more saliva) and keeping your mouth wet.  We recommend checking out our article about how to prevent dry mouth, but, if you don’t have time to read the whole thing, here’s what we talked about.

1.      Drink more water.

Many medical professionals recommend 8 to 10 cups of water per day for adults with a normal lifestyle, which equals 2 to 2.5 litres.

2.      Cut back on coffee, alcohol, sugar and smoking.

These can impede your salivary glands and make your saliva sticky.

3.      Practice good oral hygiene.

Regular brushing and flossing don’t just get rid of bad breath.  They also help minimise the effects of dry mouth.

4.      Use a humidifier.

Very dry or dusty environments can cause dry mouth, and using a humidifier where possible helps mitigate the impacts.  Install one in your sleeping area to help keep your mouth moist at night.

5.      Use Osmist Dry Mouth Spray.

If hydration and regular flossing hasn’t curtailed your dry mouth, then it’s time to start looking at other options.  Speech pathologists and dentists will often recommend chewing gum or using saliva-inducing sucks and sprays; unfortunately, many over-the-counter products contain toxic chemicals and carcinogens.

That’s where Osmist Dry Mouth Spray comes in.  Developed and produced right here in Australia, it’s composed exclusively of natural ingredients, including saliva-inducing papaya enzymes and grapeseed oil.

Small enough to fit in your pocket or handbag with an equally comfortable $12.95 price-tag, it’s a mouth spray designed for ordinary Aussies tired of living with dry mouth.  There are no prescriptions or appointments required – just purchase it online or at your local chemist, pop off the cap, spray it directly into your mouth, and enjoy relief from dry mouth for up to three hours.

Osmist also keeps your breath fresh with naturally derived peppermint oil, making it the perfect antidote for dry mouth-induced bad breath.  Convenient and affordable, it’s the dry mouth spray for people who want to say no to dry mouth and yes to life.

To learn more about dry mouth and how to manage it, click here.

To find out whether your might have dry mouth, use our free self-assessment tool.

References

[1] Llena-Puy, C. (2006) The rôle of saliva in maintaining oral health and as an aid to diagnosis.  Medicina oral, patologia oral y cirugia bucal.  11(5), 449-455.  

[2] Porter, S. R. Scully, C. (2006) Oral malodour (halitosis). The BMJ. 333(7569), 632-635. doi: 10.1136/bmj.38954.631968.AE

[3] Better Health (2012, August 6) Halitosis or bad breath.  Retrieved from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/halitosis-or-bad-breath