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Bad breath: causes and management

If you suffer from bad breath, you are not alone. In fact, approximately 30% of the population complains of some sort of bad breath. So, what causes this and how can we manage it?

Common causes of bad breath


Our mouths are home to hundreds of types of bacteria. These bacteria feed on the food left in our mouths and produce sulphur compounds as a waste product, leaving a foul smell in our mouths.

Dry mouth

Saliva is crucial for flushing out food and plaque from our mouths. Having a reduced saliva flow means that the mouth is not being cleaned as it should be. 

Food and smoking

Tobacco, alcohol, coffee, garlic, onions are all common causes of bad breath.

Gum disease

Having persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth may also be a sign of gum disease. When the gums are inflamed as a result of gum disease, they act as a source for the production of those foul-smelling sulphur compounds.

How to manage bad breath

  • Brush twice a day and floss daily to keep plaque and bacteria at low levels
  • Stay hydrated and stimulate saliva flow by chewing sugar-free gum or eating food that requires lots of chewing eg) carrots and apples
  • Quit smoking. This will not only improve your breath but also have many other health benefits.
  • If you have dentures, clean them daily and remove them at night.
  • Visit your dentist regularly to help identify signs of gum disease or dry mouth.
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