Why do I have bad breath?: the causes and treatments.
Many people think they suffer from bad breath. Are you one of them ? It is actually quite hard to smell your own breath. One good trick is to lick the back of your hand wait 30 seconds and then smell the back of your hand or you could just ask a close friend.
So what causes the smell?
In 85 – 90% of cases the smell is caused by the bacteria that are living on the back of the tongue. These bacteria live in the hairs on the back of the tongue and produce horrible chemicals when they break down food particles which in turn produce the smells. These are called volatile sulphur compounds or VSC. If you look at the back of your tongue you will notice it is rougher and it has more hairs this is generally the area where the malodour originates from.
It is usually worse in the morning because saliva production slows during the night and your mouth dries out. Saliva is good because it washes away the bacteria and food particles and also it has lots of goodies in it which slow down the activity of the bacteria
We recommend treating this by using a tongue scraper to remove the bacteria from the back of the tongue(see OrafreshTongue Scraper).Sounds easy but it can make people gag intially. Some times of the day are worse than others so try and find a time when it is easier for you to do this . After a period of time people generally get more used to it & can then move gradually further back on their tongue.It is amazing what comes of the back of your tongue! For best results this should be done once a day and your tongue scraper should be replaced at least 6 monthly. After using the tongue scraper for a while(a few weeks daily), try stopping it & you will be able to detect the generally fouler taste in your mouth.
We then recommend the use of a mouthwash containing chlorine dioxide (see CloSYS II Mouthwash). The chlorine dioxide neutralises the VSC’s and kills the bacteria that produces them, it does not just cover a smell it eliminates the cause. This mouthwash does not contain alcohol which most other preparations do therefore it does not dry the mouth and reduce saliva flow which can make bad breath worse if used over a long period of time.
Advanced or chronic periodontal disease can cause the same smells. The bacteria are living in pockets down between the tooth and gum and this does need to be treated by your dentist. Check out our Toothbrushing Technique and Do I have Gum Disease? to make sure you understand the process and are cleaning correctly.
In about 5% of cases the smell can be caused by sinus infection and post-nasal drip, with similar types of bacteria involved. This an area for your medical practitioner if it is chronic so please see your doctor if this is a regular occurrence for you
In about 3% of cases a long term infection in your tonsils can be the cause of bad breath. If you have eliminated all other causes then again check with your doctor if your tonsils are involved. Very rarely some medical conditions can cause bad breath.
How do I get fresh breath ?
Scrape the back of the tongue as a matter of routine once a day
Make sure you have the correct brushing technique and inter dental cleaning technique
See your dentist to eliminate the possibility of gum disease
Drink plenty of water to keep you mouth moist and saliva flow normal
Chewing sugar free chewing gum will increase your saliva flow(see Recaldent and Biotene Products)Be careful as this can increase jaw/joint problems.
Use CloSYS II once a day to reduce bacteria numbers and eliminate VSC’s