Why do I have bad breath?

Woman covering her mouth

Have you noticed that people don’t want to speak to you for a long time lately?


Are your friends keeping a 2-metre distance that’s nothing to do with social distancing?


Have you found a new favourite food that’s full of garlic, onions, and other fragrant spices?


Have you been a little lazy with your tooth brushing routine lately?


You could be suffering from bad breath!


Don’t worry, we’re here to help you to work out what’s causing that bad breath and freshen it up so you can talk to your loved ones without wondering when they’re going to cut the conversation short and run!



What is halitosis?


Halitosis is just the medical name for bad breath, so it means that your breath isn’t so fresh and might be a bit stinky.


Halitosis is really common and luckily, it’s usually a pretty simple problem to solve.


You often won’t even need to see a doctor or dentist to manage your bad breath effectively, but of course, that depends on what’s causing that smell in the first place.



What causes bad breath?


There are lots of causes of bad breath, and when you’ve worked out what’s making your breath smell less than fresh then you’ll be happy to find that the solution is usually an easy one.


Here are a few of the most common causes of stinky breath, so you can try to work out what’s causing yours.


Your diet


One of the worst culprits for bad breath is strong-smelling foods. As delicious as onions, garlic, and super spicy foods are, they can make your breath a bit on the stinky side.


You may also notice that your breath is a bit rank after a boozy night out on the town or a night in with a bottle of wine - alcohol is not your breath’s best friend! Luckily this type of bad breath will clear up after a bit of time and some good tooth brushing.


You can also experience bad breath if you’re on a crash diet, so you may want to re-evaluate your choices in food if you’re feeling like your breath isn’t so fresh.



Your oral health


Frankly, if you’re not taking good care of your teeth and gums then you’re going to get bad breath.


One of the most common causes of bad breath is food particles building up in your mouth and causing a stink as they decay, so if you don’t brush and floss properly you’re running the risk of bad breath. If you’ve got problems with your teeth and gums then that can also translate into bad breath.


If you have gum disease, an infection, or holes in your teeth then these can all cause halitosis, so it’s best to get a check-up with your dentist booked in as soon as possible.



Medical conditions


Some medical conditions can cause bad breath, with one of the most common being tonsillitis, as the infection can make the back of your throat a bit smelly.


Acid reflux can also cause bad breath, as your stomach acid that makes its way up your food pipe isn’t the most pleasant smelling thing in the world.


You can also experience bad breath if you have dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, as the dehydration in your mouth makes your breath smell.


If you’re not sure what could be causing your halitosis, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor or dentist so they can help to work out whether a medical condition is causing the problem.





Listen, smokers, you know as well as I do that smoking doesn’t make your breath smell like roses, it’s just the facts.


If you give up smoking then your breath will start to lose that old smoke smell, it’s as simple as that!


Now we know that giving up smoking isn’t a simple process, but if you can quit then you’ll definitely feel the benefits in a whole lot of different ways.



Why do I have bad breath in the morning (morning breath)?


Waking up with bad breath in the morning is a much more common experience than most of us would like to admit.


Don’t worry though, your morning breath is completely normal, and you’ll find that it goes away pretty quickly.


Morning breath happens because your mouth dries out overnight and the lack of saliva makes your breath smell.


When you’ve eaten breakfast and your saliva gets flowing again you’ll notice that your morning breath goes back to normal and you can stop worrying about your colleagues running in terror when you say a whiffy hello as you walk into the office!



How can I treat my bad breath?


The way you treat your bad breath will depend on what’s causing it in the first place.


If your halitosis is caused by bad oral hygiene, then stepping up your cleaning game will help to freshen your breath.


A good antibacterial mouthwash can also help to get rid of bacteria and plaque build-up and freshen up your breath in the process.


These medicated mouthwashes contain active ingredients like chlorhexidine, an antibacterial which can also help to prevent gum disease and keep your whole mouth healthy.


If your bad breath is caused by a medical condition, you’ll need to treat that properly to freshen your breath again, so ask your doctor or pharmacist to recommend a suitable treatment so you can get your breath back to normal.


And of course, if your bad breath is caused by smoking then the only way to get rid of the smell is to quit smoking.



Are there any natural remedies for bad breath?


The best home remedies for bad breath are simply taking good care of your teeth and gums.


Make sure you brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for at least 2 minutes at a time.


When you’ve finished brushing don’t rinse your mouth with water right away as this can rinse away the fluoride from your toothpaste, instead use an antibacterial mouthwash that can help to keep your breath smelling fresh.


You should also make sure to floss once a day with an interdental brush or tooth floss and use a tongue scraper or cleaner to get rid of any built-up bacteria that are lurking there.


If you’re on the go, you can try chewing some sugar-free gum or using a fresh breath spray for a temporary solution to your bad breath, but remember that this is no substitute for proper oral care.



What can I do about bad breath in children and babies?


If your child has bad breath then the best thing you can do is help them look after their teeth.


Help them to brush their teeth from the moment your baby’s first tooth pops through their gums and teach them to brush properly themselves as they grow older.


If their breath is still a bit stinky take them in to see a dentist, they’ll be able to work out the cause and give you some good advice on how to keep their breath fresh and their teeth clean.



When should I see a doctor or a dentist?


You usually won’t need to see a doctor or a dentist for your bad breath, you’ll be able to treat it at home using over the counter remedies, if necessary.


However, if your bad breath doesn’t go away after a few weeks of home treatment, you should see a doctor or dentist so they can help to work out the cause and give you a suitable treatment.


You should also make sure to see a medical professional if your gums are painful, bleeding, or swollen, or if you have a toothache or wobbly adult teeth.


You should also get yourself a check-up if your dentures aren’t fitting properly or are causing any other problems, as they can damage your mouth if they don’t fit properly.



Well there we have it, everything you need to know to get your breath back to the minty fresh state you want!


Remember, if you’re ever unsure about your oral health, ask your doctor or dentist to take a look.


Don’t be shy, it’s what they’re there for and they’re pretty immune to stinky breath by now, so let them help you to get your fresh breath back.


You’ll know it’s worth it when your friends can have a conversation with you without covering their nose!


Laura Henderson - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 17 September 2021
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