All About Bad Breath (And How to Fix It)
We have all been there – the man next to you is talking on his smartphone on the MRT but his bad breath is keeping you at a distance. While it is a common problem that can affect anyone at any age, bad breath is often treatable even though it can seem embarrassing.
Demystifying Bad Breath
Medically termed as halitosis, bad breath can be a real confidence killer. According to Dr Benjamin Yap, Dental Surgeon, Raffles Dental, about one in four people are thought to have bad breath on a regular basis. So now what? Does it mean that bad breath can be completely eliminated by brushing your teeth more frequently or buying a breath spray? The sad truth is that these remedies might not completely address the problem.
“Some patients with bad breath assume that they are more susceptible to this condition compared to others. They feel helpless and believe that little can be done to help. However, there are definitely ways to improve the situation, should one know the cause of their bad breath,” explained Dr Yap.
Poor Dental Hygiene
Did you know that the mouth becomes a breeding ground for bacteria if you have a poor oral hygiene regime? Besides increasing risks to tooth decay and irreversible gum disease, the accumulated bacteria will metabolise food particles and produce unpleasant-smelling gases. “Dental plaque can start accumulating on tooth surfaces within 24 hours of professional scaling and polishing. It is important to remove plaque by brushing and flossing daily. You should also go for dental check-ups regularly to ensure that any underlying dental problems get picked up and treated early,” said Dr Yap.
Chronic Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)
When there’s excess saliva in the mouth, you are prompted to swallow. Bacteria are expelled from the mouth when you swallow, together with any food debris that is left behind. Our saliva also helps dilute and remove smelly compounds that can potentially cause bad breath. Dr Yap explained, “If one has dry mouth, bacteria within the mouth increases significantly, which leads to bad breath. Dry mouth can be linked to factors such as age, medications and existing medical conditions.”
When food gets stuck in your mouth or between your teeth, bacteria in the mouth can then metabolise them to produce and release odours that causes bad breath. For instance, an impacted wisdom tooth can cause massive amounts of food to be trapped between the wisdom tooth and the molar in front of it. Besides contributing to bad breath, the risk of decay to both the wisdom teeth and the second molar are markedly increased as those food particles are often very difficult to dislodge.
Testing for Bad Breath
It can be tough to detect bad breath since you and I might be used to our own ‘scent’. Apart from asking our dentists during our regular dental check-ups, try this simple test to see if you have bad breath.
- Lick the inside of your wrist.
- Let your saliva dry over the next few seconds, and take a sniff.
- If you notice any unpleasant smell, you may want to check with a dentist as you are likely to have bad breath.
Preventing Bad Breath
It is easy to improve prevent bad breath and keep your teeth and gums healthy at the same time.
Try these simple steps to keep your mouth clean and smelling fresh.
- Visit your dentist every six months for scaling and polishing to remove hardened dirt that cannot be removed during tooth brushing.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day or after every meal using a soft bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste.
- Floss twice daily to remove food particles stuck between our teeth.
- Consider alcohol-free mouth rinses, as alcohol can dry one’s mouth.
- Refrain from smoking.
About Raffles Dental
In Singapore, Raffles Dental provides a comprehensive range of services to prevent, diagnose and treat dental and oral diseases. Conveniently located islandwide, we are dedicated to providing the highest standard of professional care and service.