Are you always conscious of the smell of your breath? You're not alone. As many as one in three people suffer from bad breath (halitosis) according to the Australian Dental Association, and it can have a number of possible causes.
To banish bad breath, you first need to understand why it's happening. Forget breath mints and chewing gum – here are five long-term fixes for fresher breath.
1. Brush, floss and scrape
Most bad breath is caused by poor oral hygiene. If you don't clean your mouth properly, bits of food and odours can get left behind and you could develop problems like tooth decay and gum disease (which also smell).
Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day, for two minutes each time. Floss between your teeth at least once every day to remove food and plaque from hard-to-reach areas.
You should clean your tongue too, as it can harbour bad smells and bacteria. You can do this with the back of your toothbrush or buy a dedicated tongue scraper.
2. Change your diet
If you only get bad breath after you eat or drink certain things, it's not difficult to put 2+2 together.
Coffee, garlic, onions and spices are some of the biggest offenders, which not only leave their odours behind in your mouth, but can also hang around after digestion if their components make their way to your lungs and your breath.
If you don't want to give up these favourites, you should at least drink some water to rinse your mouth shortly after. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps to keep your mouth cleaner and your breath fresher.
3. Don't smoke
Bad breath is yet another reason to give up tobacco. The odour can last for hours as you breathe smoke out from your lungs, but because smoking also dulls the sense of smell, you may not be aware of it.
Smoking also dries out your mouth and increases your risk of oral health conditions such as dry mouth, dental decay and gum disease that have bad breath as symptoms. So don't smoke.
4. Talk to your dentist
If you've taken steps to improve your oral hygiene and your diet, but you still have bad breath, you should make an appointment with your dentist.
They can tell you whether you're brushing and flossing correctly and spot the signs of oral health conditions that may be causing your bad breath, such as tooth decay, gum disease or dry mouth. If any of these are present, your dentist will discuss all the treatment options available so you can choose the one that's right for you.
5. Talk to your doctor
Bad breath can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying medical condition not related to oral health. If your dentist isn't sure what's causing your persistent bad breath, they'll recommend that you make an appointment with your doctor, who can check for the presence of a bacterial infection or disease.
If you're taking medication to manage a health condition, this could also be causing bad breath as a side-effect. If this is the case, ask your doctor if it's possible to try an alternative.
Book a check-up and clean in Sydney
Has it been longer than six months since you last visited the dentist? If you have bad breath or you just want a clean bill of dental health, make an appointment to see our dentists and oral hygienists at Sailors Bay Dentistry.