How do you know if you have bad breath? BY DR ALEX MAER
Bad breath is caused by Sulphur-producing bacteria on the surface of the tongue and throat and can be an embarrassing problem for many people. Here are some helpful tips for checking how your breath smells as well as some of the most common causes and treatments for bad breath.
Asking someone how your breath smells is a generally good way to tell how your breath smells to other people. It is very hard for us to tell how our breath smells as we become acclimatised to our own smell. Asking a partner, family member, a trusted friend or your dentist or hygienist is a good way and easy way to get an honest opinion.
How to test yourself for bad breath
Bad breath can come from the front/tip of your tongue (anterior portion) or from the back of your tongue (posterior portion). The front of your tongue is relatively self-cleansing so if your bad breath is mild, you will not be able to detect much of an odour. The back of your tongue is not as self-cleansing so it can be a good place to test for bad breath.
Here are a couple of ways to test whether you have bad breath.
Test #1 – Testing the front/tip of your tongue
Lick your wrist
Wait about 5 seconds for the saliva to dry a little
Results – How does it smell? If the smell is very minor, it is because this front part of the tongue is self-cleansing. Try the second test and see how the back of your tongue smells.
Test #2 – Testing the back of your tongue
Take a clean teaspoon
Turn it upside down and place it at the very back of the tongue
Now draw the teaspoon forward in a slow, gentle and deliberate manner
Results – Take a look at the colour. Is it a clear and runny liquid or is it a thickish whitish, brown or yellow goo? How does it smell? If it is not so bad then you are most likely in the clear. Does it smell a little funky? If the sample does have an odour and you also have a darker, thicker goo on the spoon, then you probably have a bad breath problem.
Not to worry, in most cases, there are very straightforward ways at home to get rid of your bad breath!
The most common causes of bad breath can actually be dealt with in quite simple ways. If you suspect you have bad breath, check if any of these lifestyle conditions apply to you,
-Eating pungent foods such as garlic, onions, curries.
-Having poor oral hygiene – Do you keep up with your brushing, flossing every day?
-Visiting your dentist for regular check-ups – Do you see your dentist every 6-12 months?
-Suffering from gum disease.
-Having tooth decay.
-Suffering from dry mouth – This can be caused by medical conditions or by medications.
-Not drinking enough water – Remember, keeping up your fluid intake is key to maintaining a healthy mouth!
-Having acid reflux.
-Having ongoing sinus problems.
You can try the following things to eliminate your bad breath,
-Brush your teeth morning and night. After you brush at night time, do not consume and food or drink (other than water).
-Replace your tooth brush every 3 months.
-Floss at least once a day.
-Use antimicrobial mouthwash to kill bacteria.
-Stay hydrated. Drinking water helps wash away food particles and keeps your mouth moist.
-Clean any dentures, mouthguards or retainers daily.
-Schedule a dental clean every 6 months.
Remember, regular visits to the dentist paired with good oral hygiene at home and a healthy lifestyle will reduce any instances of bad breath. If you any specific concerns about your breath, please seek professional advice with your dentist.