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Bad breath treatments: Banish oral odours for good

A close up of a woman covering her mouth with her hand

If you suffer from stinky breath, these bad breath treatments can help you smell fresh again

Bad breath, or halitosis, can be embarrassing and affect your confidence. Although it is often caused by oral hygiene habits, sometimes even regular brushing with one of the best electric toothbrushes may not solve the problem. In that instance, it may also be a sign of underlying health issues. Understanding the common causes of bad breath is essential for addressing and treating the problem.

According to research carried out by Harvard Health, around 30% of the population complains about some sort of bad breath. Halitosis is a widespread condition that affects around one in four people globally, so you can take comfort in the fact that you aren’t alone.

What causes bad breath?

Poor oral hygiene can cause bacteria to build up. These bacteria feed on food particles left behind after eating, releasing foul-smelling gases as they break down food debris. It can also lead to the buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth, gums and tongue, all of which can cause bad breath.

Dr Fatima Khan, dentist and co-founder at Riven Oral Care, said: “Bacteria on the tongue and in the back of the throat can contribute to bad breath, as can periodontal disease, a dry mouth, diet and medical issues like diabetes.”

What you eat and drink makes a difference to your breath, too. Coffee, alcohol and strong-smelling foods will all lead to odour in your mouth. Drinks like coffee and alcohol can also contribute to bad breath by drying out the mouth and promoting bacterial growth.

Smoking and chewing tobacco products not only leaves a distinctive odour on the breath, but also increases the risk of gum disease and other oral health issues, which can, you guessed it, contribute to bad breath.

Saliva plays an important role in cleansing the mouth by washing away food particles and bacteria. A dry mouth can occur due to dehydration, medication side effects, mouth breathing or salivary gland dysfunction. Without an adequate flow of saliva, bacteria can grow, leading to bad breath.

Gum disease, medical conditions – especially respiratory infections, sinusitis and acid reflux – and poorly fitted dentures or bad dental work can all contribute to bad breath. Stress can also play a part in how your breath smells.

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How do you treat bad breath?

Dealing with bad breath can be a frustrating experience, but there are treatments and strategies you can try. One of the most important parts of the process is being consistent with your oral care. Dr Khan recommends using a tongue scraper to help remove odour-causing bacteria from the tongue.

In most cases, that’s not all it takes to cure bad breath. It often requires a combination of good oral hygiene habits, dietary changes and addressing any underlying dental or medical issues.

Dr Andy Healy from Pall Mall Dental said: “Treating bad breath starts with maintaining excellent oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, scrape your tongue and use mouthwash. Bad breath is usually caused by gum disease and the smell of bacteria in your mouth, so ensure you are seeing a hygienist regularly to keep the gums clean.

A young woman uses mouthwash in her bathroom

“Ensure you’re drinking plenty of water to keep your mouth moist and help wash away food particles and bacteria. Simple as it sounds, dehydration is another big cause of bad breath, with the solution being to stay on top of your water intake. Chewing sugar-free gum can also help stimulate saliva production, which further helps to cleanse the mouth.

“If bad breath persists, it could be a sign of a more serious dental or medical issue, so it’s recommended that you consult a dentist or doctor. Nevertheless, regular dental check-ups are vital to identify and treat any underlying problems contributing to bad breath.”

Using a water flosser, floss harp or traditional dental floss can significantly improve bad breath. An electric toothbrush can seriously upgrade your oral care routine, too – you might be surprised by the difference this makes to your breath and the overall health of your mouth.

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