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Bad Breath

Dec 06, 2019

Bad breath is a common problem affecting about 1 in 4 people on a regular basis.

The most common cause of bad breath is poor oral hygiene. Bacteria can build up in the mouth which breaks down pieces of food in the mouth releasing an unpleasant-smelling gas. 

Food and drink - Eating strongly flavoured foods – such as garlic, onions and spices – is likely to make your breath smell. Strong-smelling drinks – such as coffee and alcohol– can also cause bad breath. This is usually temporary.

Smoking - Smoking increases your risk of developing gum disease, which is another cause of bad breath. As well as making your breath smell, smoking can also stain your teeth, irritate your gums and lessen your sense of taste.

Dieting – Very low calorie diets (VLCDs) cause the body to break down fats producing ketones that can be smelt on the breath.

Medical conditions – Dry mouth (xerostomia) is where there is a lack of saliva and this can cause bacteria to build up in the mouth causing bad breath.

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) and H.pylori infections of the stomach lining have also been linked to bad breath.


 As most bad breath is caused by poor oral hygiene, the most effective treatment is usually improving your dental hygiene:
 Brush your teeth and gums twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
 Use a soft toothbrush with a soft head and replace it every three to four months.
 Use an anti-odour mouthwash daily eg. CB12.
 Floss between your teeth daily to remove trapped food.
 Use a separate toothbrush or a tongue scraper to lightly brush your tongue. Some toothbrushes have a tongue cleaner on the back of the brush head.
 Attend your dentist for regular check-ups. 

‚Äčtotalhealth pharmacists advice:

 Eat a healthy, balanced diet and avoid eating strongly flavoured or spicy food.
 Cut down on sugary food and drink, as it can increase the amount of bacteria in your mouth.
 Reduce your alcohol consumption.
 Stop smoking. Ask your totalhealth pharmacist for advice.
 Cut down on coffee.
 Drink plenty of water to help prevent your mouth becoming dry.
 Chew sugar-free gum after eating, to stimulate the flow of saliva. This will help clean away any remaining food particles.

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