Dentist and bacteriologist Dr Harold Katz is an internationally recognised expert in the fields of bad breath and dry mouth. He is also the founder of The California Breath Clinics and the developer of The Breath Company. Here, Dr Katz discusses the causes of bad breath, and how to overcome it.

If you are someone who suffers with bad breath, or know someone who has an issue with breath odour, the situation can often be a ‘taboo’ subject that not many people wish to bring up.

But here we provide more insight into the problem and, most importantly, how we can tackle it for good.

What causes bad breath?

Bad breath is the result of billions of bacteria eating leftover proteins in your mouth and converting them into smelly, sulphur-based waste.

Most often, halitosis (bad breath) is related to what you eat and your dental hygiene habits. If the problem is not chronic, it may be the result of something you ate which has a particularly pungent flavour that is hard to disguise.

What are warning signs associated with bad breath?

There can be underlying causes of bad breath, but the number one cause is dry mouth. Healthy saliva contains oxygen compounds as well as important minerals and enzymes that keep the anaerobic sulphur-producing bacteria at bay, preventing bad breath.  When your mouth gets dry (such as morning breath), there is no natural protection and this results in bad breath.

But, if your breath is consistently bad to the point that brushing only helps for a short time, you might have more serious problems such as gum disease which is the result of plaque build-up and can cause permanent damage to the mouth.

Saliva neutralises the acids in plaque, thereby washing away food particles that cling to the inside of your mouth. As above, if you have a dry mouth, these particles will contribute to halitosis.

How can you prevent bad breath?

By developing the right habits, you can effectively help prevent it by making small lifestyle changes. These include eating foods that are rich in fibre and avoiding heavily processed foods that contain refined carbohydrates such as cakes and sweets.

Make sure you’re drinking more water, so your mouth is kept moist and you are well hydrated. It’s advisable to stop smoking if you suffer from bad breath too, as it has been found that smokers are more prone to dry mouth.

Good dental habits to help fight bad breath

Oral health begins with clean teeth and gums, and you can achieve this with these six easy steps:

Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and brush for at least two minutes at a time

    • Use a good fluoride toothpaste
    • Invest in an electric toothbrush. These can help to reduce the build-up of plaque better than a manual toothbrush
    • Replace your toothbrush (or toothbrush head) every three to four months
    • Floss your teeth to get to those hard to reach areas
    • Use a good mouth rinse. I recommend using an oral rinse, which effectively stops the bacteria that cause bad breath without using any harsh chemical ingredients
    • Make sure to visit a dentist regularly for a check-up, to ensure you aren’t suffering from any dental-related conditions

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