Health A to Z

Bad breath

Is your mouth trying to tell you something?

Bad breath causes symptoms treatment

Everyone gets bad breath or halitosis occasionally. It’s common to have “morning breath” after a night’s sleep, when your mouth is dry and bacteria builds up. Persistent bad breath can result from poor oral hygiene, lifestyle choices and certain medical conditions.

Bad breath causes Food is often the cause of temporary bad breath. When foods such as garlic and onions are absorbed into the bloodstream, they are expelled by the lungs, causing foul breath. Bacteria from food particles in the mouth can collect on the tongue and create an unpleasant odour. Dieting and skipping meals can also cause bad breath. Bad breath is sometimes the result of a medical condition, such as diabetes, caused by certain medications that dry out the mouth, and smoking.

Bad breath symptoms Many sufferers are unaware they have a problem. Bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth could be a sign of poor oral hygiene, gum disease or a dry mouth from lack of salivary flow or mouth-breathing.

Bad breath diagnosis/tests If your bad breath persists even with good oral hygiene, talk to your dentist, who may ask to smell as you exhale from your mouth and nose to help determine the source of the odour (for example, your sinuses). If your dentist suspects a health condition or medication is causing your bad breath, she may refer you to your doctor to try to find it. In that case, your doctor may run tests to see if you have a health condition such as diabetes or have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), that’s causing it.

Bad breath treatment Bad-breath remedies include brushing your teeth and tongue twice a day and flossing once daily to remove odour-causing food particles. Drinking plenty of water to stimulate saliva flow and making diet changes may also help. Antiseptic mouth rinses can reduce plaque and help freshen breath. If you’re concerned about bad breath, talk to your dentist who can help you pinpoint the cause and, if it’s due to an oral condition, such as gum disease, develop a treatment plan to help deal with it.

Bad breath prevention Practice good oral hygiene, see your dentist regularly and don’t smoke. Avoid strict diet regimens and skipping meal and stay hydrated. Of course, if you want fresh breath for the big date, then make sure you avoid eating garlic and onions for a few days beforehand.

Outside resources
Canadian Dental Association
Mayo Clinic