Having bad breath (halitosis), is something that most of us will experience at some point in our lives. However, having long term bad breath can become quite socially debilitating and usually makes people feel embarrassed and less confident within themselves when in close contact with others. It is important to understand the underlying causes in order to help you feel confident again. There are a number of factors that can bring on halitosis, however the most common is oral hygiene.

Oral Hygiene

The first place to start when wondering what is causing bad breath is to have a check-up at your dentist so they can check your oral hygiene. There are numerous oral hygiene issues that could be causing bad breath. First, your dentist will check for food particles in between your teeth which can get stuck if you are not a thorough brusher or flosser. This causes a bad taste and therefore a bad smell.

If all food is clear, they will check for bacteria, such as plaque. Built up plaque around the teeth can be a large contributing factor to halitosis. It can also occur if there is a decay or a cavity that needs a filling. A larger factor that can contribute to the root of bad breath is if you have periodontal disease. This is when plaque increases, and calculus builds up around our teeth. Lastly, built up bacteria and fungus on your tongue is an unexpected but common cause of bad breath. a You can check this yourself by looking out for little white spots on your tongue. To prevent these, make sure you are brushing or scraping your tongue, as it is an important step for minimising bad breath.

Beyond the teeth

Although oral hygiene is the most common factor causing halitosis, it is not the only one. There are factors just outside the mouth itself that will also contribute to bad breath. The first one is your tonsils, which sit in the top of the throat or pharynx. If you open your mouth wide and see white spots on the tonsils, these are most likely calcifications formed from bacteria which can produce quite a bad smell. In some cases, your GP can remove these.

Another part of the body that is closely linked with the teeth and mouth is your sinuses. If you are suffering from inflamed sinus for example, it can cause nasal drip which causes bad breath. Additionally, if you have a bad sinus infection, your breath is usually affected.


Daily Diet and Habits

Finally, a main contributor to bad breath is what we put into our bodies. Taking preventative steps is a great way to reduce bad breath. For example, brushing after meals is a great way to reduce bad breath. Another is keeping hydrated by drinking enough water each day. If you are a smoker or a coffee drinker, minimising or cutting these out completely in the case of smoking, can go along way in reducing halitosis.

If you have ruled out all of the above and your dentist was unable to see any oral hygiene issues, the next step is to have a chat to your GP to discuss possible gut or digestion problems that could be causing halitosis.

To have your oral hygiene assessed by Dr Kate Amos or Dr Sam Rosehill at Ethical Dental call 6652 3185 or book online.

To learn more about how your lifestyle could be affecting your oral health check out our articles ‘How Can I Prevent Dental Plaque?’ and ‘Alcohol Consumption and Oral Cancer’.


More articles