If you suffer from bad breath then it appears you’re in good company.
While the figures vary depending on the person supplying them, it is estimated that around 60 million (or around one in four) of the adult population have some level of halitosis.
Caused by sulphur-producing bacteria in the tongue and throat, unpleasant odours emitted from the mouth are believed to be the third most common reason people visit their dentist to seek dental care—with the first two being tooth decay and gum disease.
But while it’s easy to identify the symptoms of foul breath, it’s not always as straightforward identifying the underlying cause.
What contributes to bad breath?
A variety of factors have been identified as contributing to the problem of bad breath including diet selection, a dry mouth caused by smoking, poor oral hygiene, cavities, gingivitis and inadequate brushing techniques.
However, many dental professionals now believe the problem could be related to issues with the tongue which plays host to almost half of our oral bacteria. You can see it yourself if you stick your tongue out. The tongue can develop a white glazing and as a result, cause bad breath.
This white film on your tongue occurs as a result of overgrown and swollen ‘bumps’ (technically referred to as papillae) on the tongue's surface. Bacteria and dead cells that lodge between the papillae cause the white coating on the upper surface of the tongue.
How do I fix my bad breath?
There are now a host of products on the market that aim to help to lessen the impact of bad breath.
Aside from brushing twice a day and flossing regularly, I also advise purchasing a tongue scraper to help eliminate or, at the very least, lessen the impact of your poor smelling breath.
Built specifically for the tongue, scrapers work by removing the bacteria, food debris, fungi, toxins and dead cells from the surface of the tongue.
Scrapers are considered more effective than brushes alone; although brushing and flossing will loosen and move debris around, they don’t actually remove the bacteria.
Does mouthwash work?
You may also like to consider introducing an alcohol-free mouthwash as part of your regular oral health routine. This will mask bad breath for a couple of hours, and help fight the bacteria that causes cavities and gum disease.
But you don’t need to buy mouthwash. Other ways to fight bad breath include drinking plenty of water and swishing it around in your mouth, and replacing your toothbrush every two to three months.
In some rare cases, white tongue and/or the presence of halitosis can be a sign of a deeper medical issue, usually related to intestinal issues, in which case you should contact your doctor for further investigation.