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Bad Breath: Causes and Cures

Bad breath, also called halitosis or malodor will affect everyone at one point or another during their lives. 80% of bad breath comes from an oral source, with only 20% arising from other medical conditions such as acid reflux, diabetes, chronic bronchitis and liver disease. Luckily most bad breath can be combated with proper oral hygiene. Proper oral hygiene can be achieved by flossing and brushing regularly and going to the dentist every six months for a checkup and a professional cleaning.

What causes bad breath?

The majority of bad breath originates in your mouth. Cavities and gum disease can cause bad breath, as can cracked fillings and poorly cleaned dentures which have trapped food particles. Bad breath is often caused by bacteria which feed of the sugars present in food. These bacteria form plaque, a sticky colourless film that also causes cavities and gum disease. If it is not cleaned away daily it can harden into tartar. Reduced saliva production, resulting in dry mouth, can also cause bad breath. This is why most people have bad breath when they first wake up, since saliva production slows significantly during sleep.

How can I combat bad breath?

The first step towards fresh breath is regular brushing and flossing. You should ideally brush after every meal, but that is not always feasible. Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice per day: once in the morning and once before bed. You should also floss at least once per day to remove food particles and plaque from between your teeth.

You should also visit your dentist for a checkup every six months. Not only will you get your teeth professionally cleaned but you can also find out if you have cavities or gum disease. Cavities occur when teeth are not properly cleaned and the tooth begins to rot, causing a variety of problems including bad breath. Gum disease is caused by tartar buildup, which is caused by bacteria that feed on the sugars left in your mouth after you eat. Bacteria emit unpleasant smelling gases that contribute to bad breath.

Any other tips?

Since dry mouth can cause bad breath you can help keep your breath fresh by remaining hydrated. You can also swish thoroughly with water if you are unable to brush your teeth after a meal, and remove at least some of the plaque and food accumulated. You should also avoid foods with strong odours, such as coffee, garlic and onions. Opt for a healthy balanced diet and choose snacks like raw carrots and celery sticks or apple slices. These crunchy and water foods help to clear your mouth of food particles and plaque.

Do not smoke. Smoking causes a variety of health problems, including bad breath. You should also cut back on your alcohol consumption since alcohol dehydrates you and can cause dry mouth.

If your teeth are feeling "fuzzy" and you can’t brush them right away reach for a stick of sugarless gum. Doing so increases your saliva flow and helps to break down any food particles that remain in your mouth. Avoid sugary breath mints since they deposit sugar on your teeth and actually encourage plaque build up.

For more oral hygiene tips, or to book an appointment, contact Marlborough Dental today at 403.248.2066 and visit

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