Unfortunately, bad breath is something that we all suffer from, no matter how healthy we are. Below we explain what the science behind bad breath is and how you can do your best to avoid it…
The areas in our mouths and on our tongues with deep grooves can easily collect bacteria which is commonly called plaque, these bacteria produce Sulphur which when left in your mouth, causes an odour, also known as halitosis. Poor brushing and flossing habits can mean that particles of food are left in the mouth and the breakdown of this food also produces Sulphur compounds. When not brushed away properly, plaque can also cause gum disease.
Saliva naturally cleans the mouth; if the salivary glands in your mouth don’t make enough saliva to keep your mouth wet, this causes dry mouth. If the mouth is naturally dry, odours can build up. Dry mouth naturally occurs when you’re asleep and is worse if you sleep with your mouth open, this can lead to what some people call ‘morning breath’. Keep yourself hydrated to avoid dry mouth.
Diets such as fasting or low carbohydrate eating programs (such as the keto diet) can cause bad breath because of the breakdown of fats, which produces chemicals called ketones, which have a strong aroma. Also eating strong-scented foods such as, garlic, onions and spices can cause bad breath, they contain Sulphur compounds that linger in your mouth and after you digest these foods.
Respiratory tract infections and chronic sinus infections may be the cause of bad breath too. Also, gum disease can cause bad breath due to a build-up of plaque (bacteria) which cause toxins to form. If it goes untreated, gum disease can cause serious damage to the mouth.
Practising regular oral hygiene is the best way to avoid bad breath; gently brush your teeth, gums and tongue for 2 minutes at least twice a day with an electric toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Peppermint is commonly used in toothpaste, because of its strong minty taste and cooling properties which soothe your mouth and neutralize odours.
Adding some peppermint oil to your water that you drink throughout the day can help you to maintain fresher breath. Peppermint oil’s antiseptic properties can also help to get rid of bacteria from your mouth that cause plaque and tooth decay.
It’s important not to rinse your mouth with water after brushing, as this can wash away the fluoride which may help prevent cavities and early stages of tooth decay. Use floss to clean in between your teeth at least once a day and try using an antibacterial mouthwash. Make sure you regularly visit the dentist for check-ups, as any medical or hygiene problems will be spotted by your dentist.
The very back of the tongue is the main source of bad breath, as this region is poorly cleaned by saliva and contains grooves where bacteria can hide in and not get washed away. Therefore, breathing into your hands to smell your breath isn’t accurate because the breath you exhale doesn’t come from the back of your tongue. When you talk, however, we expel the air over the back of the tongue.