Bad Breath Explained

Bad Breath Explained

Bad breath is caused by the excretion of the anaerobic bacteria that live within your mouth. These anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that do not need oxygen to survive) excrete sulphur compounds. These sulphur compounds are the things which cause the problem. There are two types of unpleasant smells; the ‘rotten egg’ smell (hydrogen sulphide) and the barnyard smell (methyl mercaptan) are known as VSCs – volatile sulphur compounds. The key word here is volatile. Each individual will have different amounts of anaerobic bacteria, meaning that unfortunately some people will just naturally have worse breath than others.  


How do you know if you have bad breath? Some indicators include:

- sleeping with your mouth open

- snoring

- smoking

- consuming alcohol

- taking certain prescription medications and antihistamines. 


All of the above decrease the amount of saliva in your mouth. Saliva contains oxygen, which keeps your mouth healthy and fresh. A white-coated tongue is also an indication that you may have bad breath. That white coating is comprised of sulphur compounds that have risen to the tongue’s surface and cause bad breath. Old, worn dental work has a rough surface that also provides a space for bacteria to colonize.


Keep in mind that you breathe what you eat. High-protein foods, coffee, onions, garlic, sugar, acidic foods and drinks, and dairy products all worsen your breath. Gastric reflux also results in bad breath; ask your doctor about prescribing a medication to get this condition under control.


The good news is that you can take control of your breath. Follow the guidelines below and this will hugely increase the chances of having clean, fresh breath.

·       Have your teeth professionally cleaned at least three times a year.

·       Floss every day.

·       Brush at least twice a day.

·       Brush and scrape your tongue frequently.

·       Try an antibacterial gel.

·       Use an alcohol-free mouthwash once a day.

·       Use antibacterial sprays. They’re also a quick way to give your mouth a clean sweep.

·       Drink water frequently, both to keep lingering food particles from sticking, as well as to fend off dry mouth.

·       Eat right. Choose less acidic food and balance the pH levels in your mouth.                


Bad breath is an unpleasant thing, but it is relatively easy to control. If you try the steps above but feel that something more is needed then speak to your dentist. There may be an underlying problem that you haven’t known about.

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