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19 February 2018

The Battle Against Bad Breath

It is a common misconception that the cause of bad breath comes down to two things: mediocre oral hygiene or poor diet. The reality however is that there are a range of reasons why your breath may be less than fragrant. Excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, an over reliance on mouth breathing (as opposed to through the nose), and certain medications all having the potential to significantly alter our oral odour. Also, cavities can be a cause of bad breath.

Typically, certain classes of diets like lactose and other milk products can also work against you in terms of having minty-smelling breath.

Fixing bad breath

As with the assortment of different classifications causing bad breath there is also an array of options when it comes to solving the problem.

Sometimes something as simple as sipping water can help to alleviate the problem while in other cases more drastic action is required. While it is true a lot of the causes of bad breath can be corrected by the individual with lifestyle changes—the likes of which include drinking less or refraining from the consumption of alcohol—on occasion the problem can only be solved by intervention from a specialist such as your dentist or other oral health professional.

Early warning signs

An early warning sign that you may need additional assistance is when you are constantly suffering bad breath, or finding little success in attempting to treat the issue yourself. Bleeding gums, tonsil-related issues, regular snoring and even discolouration of your teeth are a sure sign that all is not as it should be with your mouth, teeth and/or gums.

While many people will be reluctant to bring the issue up to you for fear that you may take offence potentially risking your friendship, it may also be timely to make an appointment with your oral health professional if you are growing tired of your partner or significant other’s complaints in relation to the problem.

Pinning down the cause of bad breath

A good dentist or oral health profession will not only investigate the cause behind your bad breath but will also equip you with solutions going forward.

Common treatments can include everything from the removal of problem teeth to help with snoring appliances aimed at opening up the airways and alleviating the odour. Your dentist can also talk to you about changing your diet, or talk about the side-effects of any medication you are using. A solution might lie in adjusting that medication (in consultation with your GP). Or it may be a simple case of re-educating you on oral hygiene.

If the problem is found to be caused by a snoring-related issues, your dentist will often work with sleep practitioners to work out if you require an appliance with snoring. Many dentists are also in a position to provide mandibular advancements and plates that can help alleviate snoring and assist to solve the issue.

How your dentist can help

For those whose bad breath is caused by the medication they are currently on, the problem is as treatable but the solution may be a little more complex. If the problem is traced back to the type of medication you are on, your dentist will often get in touch with the prescribing doctor to investigate other options which lessen the impact of side effects such as dry mouth.

Alternatively, your oral health professional may suggest you come back more regularly in order to undertake thorough cleaning.
For those with a minor issue, your dentist will often recommend trying a non-alcoholic mouth rinse. It’s important that the mouth rinse is non-alcoholic, as those containing alcohol have been found to dry the mouth even further, worsening the problem. Check the packaging to make sure it says it’s ‘alcohol free’.

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