Heathwood Dental Practice, Crowthorne, Berkshire. Tel. 01344 776933

Bad Breath


Most bad breath stems from the mouth, and is usually worst in the morning after waking. The level of bad breath differs during the day, dependant on how dry the mouth is (which can be affected by dehydration, stress and fasting amongst other things), eating certain foods (such as garlic and onions), smoking and alcohol consumption. Because the mouth is dry and inactive during the night, the odour is usually worse upon awakening. It is often transient, and commonly disappears following eating, brushing and flossing.

Bad breath in the mouth is usually attributed to smelly chemicals produced by bacteria in the mouth, especially those located on the back half of the tongue. The bacteria digest, amongst other things, particles of food, releasing pungent compounds in return. Thus, good oral hygiene to remove food debris and bacteria will help to reduce such odours. It is also particularly important to clean the tongue, either with a toothbrush or a tongue scraper. However, dental caries (decay) can also cause bad breath and foul tastes.

How can I tell if I have bad breath?


It is relatively easy to check if you have bad breath; simply lick the inside of your wrist, and smell it - a bad odour suggests that your breath is also bad.

Alternatively, ask a trusted friend to be absolutely honest..

How can my dentist help?


A clean mouth is critical in avoiding bad breath. Also regular check-ups with your dentist will help to pick up any problems early; in addition, regular visits to the hygienist will aid in removing calculus which is difficult to remove with a toothbrush. Our team will also be able to show you the best way to clean your teeth and gums, and show you any areas you may be missing, including your tongue.

A warning sign of gum disease is that you always have bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth. Again, your dentist and hygienist will be able to see and treat the problem during your regular check-ups. The earlier the problems are found, the more effective the treatment will be, and the less damage will have occurred.

Can I prevent bad breath?


To keep your breath fresh, you must get rid of any gum disease, and keep your mouth clean and fresh. If you do have bad breath, try keeping a diary of all the foods you eat and list any medicines you are taking. Take this diary to your dentist who may be able to suggest ways to solve the problem.

Brush your teeth and gums twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Don’t forget to brush your tongue as well. Use dental floss once a day for cleaning between your teeth. There are other products you can buy to clean between your teeth (they are called ‘interdental cleaners’).

If you wear dentures, take them out at night to give your mouth chance to rest. Do not clean them with toothpaste as it will scratch the surface and more stains will build up. They will also lose their shine. Hold them over a bowl of water or a towel in case you drop them. Clean them thoroughly with soap and lukewarm water, a denture cream or a denture cleaning tablet. Use a denture brush kept just for the purpose. Remember to clean the surfaces that fit against your gums and palate. This will make sure your dentures are always fresh and clean, and avoid the plaque build-up on the denture that may cause bad breath.