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The causes of bad breath

We’re sure that after coffee, a garlic-y dish, or a particularly strong serving of food that we’ve all noticed a little twinge in our breath. This is normal, but if this twinge continues to be present then we may be suffering from something a little more sinister than just well-seasoned food. Bad breath, or halitosis, affects an estimated 25% of people globally. That’s a lot of people with bad breath that could be entirely avoidable! There are a number of causes of bad breath, but the overwhelming majority come down to oral hygiene or lack thereof. Let’s explore the causes behind bad breath and what we need to change.


These are the causes of bad breath

Tobacco products cause their own types of mouth odour. Smoke particles and chemicals are left in the throat and lungs that become dislodged by our exhale, dispersing them into the world. Unfortunately, this can mean conversations can be marred by this ‘smoker’s breath’. A study revealed that tobacco smoke contains more than 60 aromatic hydrocarbons, most of which are carcinogenic in addition to conveying a fragrance. Smoking also causes bad breath by drying out the palate. Repeatedly inhaling hot gases parches the tongue and gums, leaving a dry, chemical-filmed environment where bacteria can run amok.


Dry mouth and not enough saliva is also another reason people develop bad breath. Saliva naturally cleans the mouth and lubricates the surfaces and tissues to stop food from clinging there. If you don’t have this coating of saliva to wash away debris, then this food sticks and attracts bacteria. These bacteria feast on the remnants, releasing foul smelling toxins that taint the breath.


Dieting, especially low-carbohydrate diets, have grown in popularity over the years. These so-called “keto diets” aim to facilitate rapid weight loss, through the consumption of minimal carbohydrates. We get a lot of our glucose, the fuel for our body, from carbohydrates, but on low-carb diets the body doesn’t receive these essential sugars. Instead, it uses the fat present in the body as an energy source, which produces ‘ketones’ in the process. These ketones have a rather distinct smell and can smell either very sweet or strangely alcoholic (like nail varnish remover!)


Dental hygiene is, of course, a huge contributor to the freshness of our breath. Brushing and flossing ensure the removal of small food particles that can build up and slowly breakdown, releasing an odour. Plaque builds up and irritates the gums, ushering in the beginnings of gum disease which taints the breath further. Even dentures and retainers that aren’t cleaned properly can harbour bacteria that cause halitosis.


Home remedies for bad breath

Some of these may seem obvious, but we have to do our job properly and tell you as dentists. So, here goes: brush your teeth! Do this morning and night, or preferably after every meal, to keep your teeth and gums in the best of health. Flossing once a day also helps promote teeth and gum health, because brushing only cleans around 60% of the tooth. Brush your tongue too, as this is where bacteria, food, and chemicals can build up. Toothbrushes often come with a little tongue scraper or textured back to do this. Drinking plenty of water is always a good idea, as mentioned above, and it prevents dry mouth from occurring too frequently. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from popping into the practice to make a dental hygiene appointment, either.


Bad breath has a multitude of different causes, but if you stay on top of your dental hygiene and cut back on harmful lifestyle habits, you could be pleasantly surprised in the improvement of your breath. Book your consultation with Down House Dental Practice in Steyning by calling 01903 813212 or enquire online today!



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