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Bad breath . . . do you know the causes?


Your tongue . . . bacteria on the tongue is the leading cause of bad breath. Clean yours with a tongue scraper or specially designed tongue brush, which has short, firm bristles to dig out bacteria from the crevices of the tongue’s surface.

The common cold . . . as if they weren't annoying enough, respiratory tract infections like colds and bronchitis can also give you bad breath. That's because odour-causing bacteria like to feed on mucus. And if you have a stuffy nose, you're more likely to resort to mouth-breathing, which can dry out your mouth.

Cracked teeth and fillings . . . these can trap food particles and breed bacteria, resulting in cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. Badly fitting dentures can cause the same problems.

After work drinks . . . a girls' night out or beers with the bros could give you more than a hangover. Alcohol can dry out your mouth, which encourages the bacteria that cause halitosis – or the dreaded ‘bad breath’. Drinks with caffeine, spicy foods, and cigarettes can too. A dry mouth from not making as much saliva while you sleep also explains "morning breath."

Medications . . . more than 400 prescription and over-the-counter drugs, including antidepressants and allergy remedies, can stifle saliva flow. This fluid helps wash away food and bacteria, keeping bad breath at bay. Changing your medications isn't always an option, so make sure you stay hydrated and chew sugarless gum to keep your mouth moist. Special oral rinses can also help.

Ulcers . . . The ulcer itself may not be the problem. But a type of bacteria that causes ulcers, Helicobacter pylori, can also trigger bad breath. Treating the bacteria may get rid of the smell. Your doctor can test you for H. pylori and prescribe antibiotics for it, if necessary.

Acid reflux or heartburn . . . your bad breath may be from some undigested food coming back up, or it could be that irritation from stomach acid is giving you postnasal drip. Ask your doctor for help if you find yourself suffering from heartburn regularly.

Dried fruit . . . it’s very high in sugar, and odour-causing bacteria love to feed on the stuff. A reasonable 1/4 cup of raisins has 21gms of sugar; the same amount of dried apricots has 17gms. That’s like eating 4-5 teaspoons of pure sugar. Plus, dried fruit is sticky, so it can get trapped on and between your teeth. After a snack, be sure to floss and brush.

A low-carb diet . . . when you cut out carbs and boost the amount of protein you eat, your body starts burning fat for energy. That process makes compounds called ketones, which cause bad breath. In this case, better dental hygiene won't actually solve the problem, since that's not the root cause. Your best bet is to mask your breath with sugar-free gum.

The hygiene team at New Farm Dental Studio can help you make sure your mouth stays healthy for life


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