When you do not clean your teeth after dinner, you will most likely wake up with a bad smell on your breath.
Mouth odour is an unpleasant and offensive smell that comes from your mouth when you speak or breath out forcefully. Food, disease and lack of personal hygiene are frequent causes.
Mouth odour is commonly reversible, but can cause you embarrassment, anxiety and fear.
Bad breath has different causes, and they include:
- Some foods have a strong odour or some food particles remaining in the mouth after meals and give off bad odours.
- Not brushing appropriately, or flossing or following recommended mouth hygiene is a common cause of bad breath.
- Some drugs or smoking tobacco may leave the mouth dry. This makes it easier for bacteria to grow there.
- Medical conditions like diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease and sore throat may produce distinct strong odours as a symptom.
- Bacterial infections in the tonsils or in teeth with holes (cavities).
- Food and other residues may also stick to the tongue. This supports the growth of germs and may give off odours.
If you think you may have mouth odour, first check that you follow consistent mouth hygiene. At least once a day.
- You should brush your teeth and tongue with a fluoride-containing toothpaste
- Clean in between your teeth with dental floss daily. If you use braces, your dentist may show you how or use tiny brushes (interdental brushes).
- You can rinse your mouth with mouthwash after meals to reduce food sediments in your mouth.
- If the unpleasant odour persists after these, then you should see your healthcare provider.
You cannot prevent bad breath caused by dry mouth or other chemicals your body makes, but you can reduce the severity. You can prevent bad breath caused by poor dental hygiene, infection or disease. You do this by practising good oral hygiene (e.g. brushing and flossing daily), treating infections, and eating a diet free of spices that cause your bad breath.
- Brush your teeth and floss at least once a day.
- Use a tongue scraper on your tongue especially if it is discoloured.
- Avoid foods with strong odours, such as onions, garlic, fish, or groundnut.
- Drink a lot of clean water to prevent dry mouth. If you are taking drugs that may cause dry mouth, you can suck on chips of ice block often.
- Use an antiseptic mouthwash to rinse out your mouth after meals.
- If you use removable artificial teeth (dentures), clean them thoroughly before using them again.
- Cut down on alcohol use and stop smoking.
- Medical treatment
- Treatment for mouth odour depends on the cause.
- If due to a health condition, like diabetes your healthcare provider will recommend the appropriate treatment.
- If there is an infection, your healthcare provider may recommend antibacterial mouthwash (for a short period) and toothpaste.
Mouth odour may be a source of avoidable embarrassment and anxiety. Follow the self-care routine consistently and follow through with your healthcare provider’s recommendation. You may also mask the odour with sugar-free mint chewing gum. These can help mask odours when treatment is ongoing, and improve dry mouth.
Keep in mind that your condition can be improved by self-care, so focus on creating new healthier habits and improving your health.