Goodbye bad breath

Fresh ideas from a dental expert on how to banish bad breath

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By Liz Connor

There are ways to stop bad breath in its tracks – and it takes more than brushing twice a day. We asked Henry Clover, chief dental officer at Simplyhealth, to give us some advice on keeping your mouth minty fresh.

PRACTICE PERFECT ORAL HEALTH

“Bacteria can build up in your mouth and release unpleasant gases, so make sure you’re removing plaque – the white sticky deposit that collects on your teeth – by brushing your teeth for two minutes, twice a day,” says Henry.

“Bacteria can also lurk on the surface of your tongue so it may benefit from a quit brush too.”

Brushing alone only reaches around 70 per cent of tooth surfaces, so you’ll need to get right into all your books and crannies.

“Make sure you’re cleaning between your teeth every day to remove plague and food particles stuck between your teeth,” Henry adds, “as these will start to smell as they break down.”

SEE YOUR DENTIST

If brushing doesn’t help, bad breath could be the sign of an underlying health issue your dentist should check out.

“Gum disease and other infections in the mouth can cause very bad breath,” says Henry. “The mildest form of gum disease is known as gingivitis. Which is fairly common and easier to reverse in its early stages with a good brushing and flossing routine, as well as regular dental appointments.”

KICK THE SMOKING HABIT

“If you smoke this can have a huge effect on the freshness of your breath, as well as your oral health,” says Henry. “Smoking stays on your breath for a long time as well as your hair and clothes, it also increases your risk of gum disease which is another potential cause of bad breath, not to mention the significant general health risks of tobacco.”

WATCH YOUR DIET

“Avoiding strong-smelling food can help keep your breath fresh,” advises Henry.

“These include onions, garlic and spices and drinks such as coffee and alcohol.”

Cutting out too many foods can, ironically, cause issues too.

“Crash diets, not eating enough and low carbohydrate diets can cause bad breath,” says Henry. “This is because your body starts to break down body fat to feed itself, which produces chemicals called ketones that can be smelt on your breath.”

Aside from keeping your diet in check, what else can you do?

“Sugar free chewing gum and mints can also help stimulate salvia flow production and freshen breath,” says Henry, “so it’s handy to have a pack in your bag for odour emergencies.” 

Catherine Devane