Bad breath is more common than you may think and can have many different causes. Please let us know if this is a concern for you.
The most obvious external cause of bad breath is your diet. Some foods are well known for their lingering odours such as garlic, onions and coffee amongst many others. Eating these foods will result in a transient state of halitosis (bad breath) that will dissipate naturally over time.
Longer lasting bad breath may be as a result of:
- Bacterial metabolisation in the oral environment
- Build-up of plaque or calculus, especially below the gum line
- Underlying systemic factors
A high bacterial load in the oral environment results in a large amount of various breakdown products of the continual bacterial metabolisation that occurs. These by-products can include sulphur compounds along with a variety of others which tend to emit strong odours.
A simple solution without waiting is to use either a Xylitol (sugar free) chewing gum or a chlorhexidine mouth rinse.
Xylitol is a commonly used sugar substitute. Most of the “sugar-free” drinks found in the supermarket today will contain xylitol as a substitute from glucose or sucrose. These drinks should be consumed in moderation in terms of general health as they still contain around 60% of the calories of normal sugary drinks.
Xylitol is a non-fermentable alcohol sugar, this means that it will not break down and release acids into the oral environment like the more common refined sugars glucose, sucrose and fructose. The result is less sugar available for bacteria to metabolise into acids and a more stable oral pH and therefore less demineralisation of tooth structure. Due to this action, mouth rinses and chewing gums containing xylitol may be recommended.
Chewing xylitol chewing gum also promotes the flow of saliva which aids in the mechanical cleansing of the oral environment. Saliva also acts to stabilize the pH in the oral environment. A good saliva flow is essential to good oral health.
Chlorhexidine is the active ingredient in several mouthwashes. It has a strong bactericidal effect which means when used it significantly decreases the bacterial load in the mouth. A decreased bacterial load in the oral environment results in less breakdown products of bacterial metabolisation.
Professional Scale and Clean:
Often a good starting point is a thorough professional scale and clean by your dentist to remove long standing and inaccessible plaque and calculus from below the gum line and in between teeth. Leaving these substrates undisturbed for long periods of time can result in unpleasant odours coming from your mouth.
If the underlying cause for your bad breath is determined to not be of dietary or dental origin, we will happily recommend a referral to your GP to screen for possible systemic causes.