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Sunday, 8 October 2017

Bad Breath?

Dr. Vincent Wan


Are you embarrassed about your breath?  Do you wake up in the morning with a bad taste and odour from your mouth?  Has a partner told you that you have bad breath?

Bad breath, or its more scientific name halitosis, is caused by bacteria in the mouth.  These bacteria break down proteins left on the oral tissues and release sulphur into the mouth.  This sulphur is very volatile and has a bad odour, causing the bad breath.

Absent or ineffective oral hygiene is a common cause.  Make sure you brush twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste and a soft toothbrush, and floss at least once a day.  This will remove bacteria and food debris containing protein that the bacteria use to produce sulphur.  Rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash for one minute after brushing and flossing may also help reduce bacteria and freshen the breath.

The most common spots in the mouth where these sulphur-producing bacteria are left are near the back of the throat and on the tongue.  Make sure you reach to the back of the mouth and brush your tongue as well after your teeth.  Using your toothbrush, brush from the back of the tongue to the front in a swift single stroke.

Having little saliva and a dry mouth can allow sulphur-producing bacteria to thrive and produce more sulphur.  The reason you may wake up with morning breath is because your mouth may produce little saliva when you sleep.  Low saliva may also be caused by medical conditions, medications, stress and a lot of alcohol consumption.

Smoking does not only produce a bad smell itself, but also produces an environment in the mouth that sulphur-producing bacteria love and thrive in.  Quitting smoking is a good thing for your breath as well as your general and oral health.

Discharge into the mouth such as acid reflux from the stomach or a post-nasal drip from sinusitis may also produce a taste and odour in the mouth themselves or by giving a great environment for sulphur-producing bacteria to multiply.  Active bacterial infections such as tooth decay, gum disease and dental abscesses of course will do so as well.