At one time or another we all suffer from bad breath (Halitosis). For many, bad breath is a temporary problem, however, if bad breath persists there may be an underlying cause. If you have persistent bad breath you should speak to your dentist or physician to rule out any disease and take steps to prevent a future recurrence.

Causes of Bad Breath

Food. Foods heavy in garlic, onions, and spices are among the culprits contributing to bad breath. Bad breath can also be triggered by infrequent eating or food particles left in the mouth.

Poor dental hygiene. Infrequent or poor brushing and flossing techniques can leave food in the mouth to decompose. Your mouth is warm, moist and dark—the perfect place for bacteria to grow if not properly cared for. It is important to remember to brush twice daily and floss to remove food particles between teeth. Bad breath can also affect those that wear dentures; always ensure you clean your denture daily.

Gum (periodontal) disease. Persistent bad breath is often an indicator of gum disease. Gum disease is caused by an accumulation of bacterial plaque at the point where your teeth and your gums meet. If untreated this condition can continue to advance, eventually leading to tooth loss.

Dry mouth. If you suffer from reduced saliva flow in the mouth you are more susceptible to bad breath. Saliva helps clean food particles from the mouth. Without this added protection bacteria can grow, leading to bad breath and other dental conditions. Many medications can contribute to dry mouth.

Tobacco use. The use of tobacco products can cause bad breath and increase your risk of developing oral conditions, including gum disease and oral cancer. Speak to your dentist for tips to help you quit or visit Quit Now.

Other medical conditions. While rare, bad breath can also be associated with other medical conditions such as sinus or throat infections, diabetes and some liver and kidney diseases.

What you can do

  • Brush, floss and clean your tongue at least twice a day to remove food and bacteria from the mouth and prevent dental disease
  • Let your dentist know if you are taking any medications and ask about treatment for dry mouth
  • See your dentist to replace broken fillings (that may act as a food trap) and restore areas of decay