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How can I prevent bad breath?

Understanding and Combating Halitosis: A Comprehensive Guide

Bad breath, medically referred to as halitosis, is a common oral health condition that can significantly impact an individual’s confidence and social interactions. It is estimated that this condition affects nearly half of the general population at some point in their lives​1​.

What Is Halitosis?

Halitosis is characterised by an unpleasant odour emanating from the mouth. It is not typically a life-threatening issue but can be indicative of poor health or diet. Identifying and treating the underlying cause of bad breath is essential for both physical and mental well-being​1​.

Recognising Bad Breath

Often, individuals may not realise they have bad breath. Here are some methods to self-assess:

  • Ask a trusted friend or family member.
  • Lick your wrist, let it dry, and then smell the area.
  • Use dental floss and smell it post-flossing.
  • Employ a tongue scraper and then smell the scraper​1​.

Common Causes of Bad Breath

Understanding the causes of halitosis is key to prevention and treatment. Some prevalent factors include:

  • Consumption of strong-smelling foods and drinks.
  • Inadequate oral hygiene leading to food and plaque buildup.
  • Improperly cleaned or ill-fitting dentures.
  • Tobacco use, which not only causes mouth odour but is also a risk factor for gum disease.
  • Foods lodged in the mouth or between teeth.
  • Dry mouth, which can result from inadequate hydration, certain medications, diseases, or lifestyle factors​1​.

Dietary Considerations

Modifying one’s diet to avoid or reduce the intake of foods and drinks with strong odours can be beneficial. Additionally, ensuring adequate hydration to prevent dry mouth is recommended.

Oral Hygiene Practices

Brushing twice daily, flossing once a day, and perhaps most importantly, cleaning the tongue can significantly reduce the occurrence of bad breath​2​​3​.

Lifestyle Changes

Quitting smoking and other forms of tobacco use is imperative, not only for fresh breath but also for overall oral health. Tobacco use can contribute to various dental issues, including dry mouth and gum disease, which are associated with bad breath​5​.


Bad breath can be a distressing condition, but with proper oral hygiene practices, lifestyle adjustments, and regular dental visits, it can often be prevented and treated effectively. Understanding the causes and being proactive in maintaining oral health are the cornerstones of managing halitosis.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure. By adopting these practices and seeking regular dental advice, individuals can maintain fresh breath and improve their oral and overall health.

At The Cosmetic Dental Spa in Hurstville, we uphold the highest standards of patient care, creating an experience that embodies both comfort and excellence in dental health services. Our clinic is a sanctuary where advanced periodontal treatments are administered with precision and care, ensuring every patient achieves optimum oral health. We are ideally situated for those living in Hurstville and its environs, inviting residents from Beverly Hills, Kingsgrove, Bexley, Penshurst, Carlton, Allawah, Beverley Park, Blakehurst, Carss Park, Connells Point, Kogarah, Kogarah Bay, Lugarno, Mortdale, Oatley, and beyond to experience dental care at its finest. Our commitment to oral health is unwavering, with a focus on providing personalised periodontal care tailored to the unique needs of each individual, ensuring that the health foundation of their smile is as strong as it is aesthetically pleasing.

In the dynamic landscape of Hurstville and its neighbouring suburbs, The Cosmetic Dental Spa stands as a pillar of complete dental wellness. We cater to every dental requirement, from routine check-ups and cleans to emergency dental services, with the ability to provide same-day ceramic restorations thanks to our state-of-the-art CEREC technology. Our comprehensive services extend to root canal treatments, wisdom tooth extractions, the crafting of veneers, crowns, and implants, as well as offering periodontics, children’s dentistry, and aligners for orthodontic correction. Equipped with in-house X-ray machines, we ensure a prompt and effective diagnosis and treatment process. Every aspect of our practice is designed to make your visit efficient, thorough, and as comfortable as possible.

Our philosophy at The Cosmetic Dental Spa is underpinned by the belief that everyone deserves access to high-quality dental care. We are dedicated to offering a wide spectrum of dental services that cater to the diverse needs of our patients. From preventive care to the artistry of cosmetic dentistry and the meticulous execution of complex dental procedures, our team at The Cosmetic Dental Spa is unwavering in their commitment to dental excellence. This dedication is evident in our gentle approach and the meticulous attention to detail we apply in every treatment, ensuring that each and every patient departs with a smile that is both stunning in appearance and exceptional in health.

Frequently Ask Question

Halitosis, commonly known as bad breath, is an oral health condition characterized by an unpleasant odour emanating from the mouth. It can cause embarrassment and social discomfort​1​.

Bad breath is quite common, affecting up to 50% of the general population at some point in their lives. It can negatively impact self-esteem and social interactions​2​.

Yes, bad breath can significantly impact your social life. It can lead to embarrassment, anxiety in social situations, and even personal or social isolation​2​​3​.

Since most people may not realize they have bad breath, it is best to ask someone you trust or use self-assessment techniques like licking your wrist or using a tongue scraper and then smelling it​2​.

  • Yes, you can quickly test for bad breath by licking your wrist, letting it dry, and smelling it, or by smelling your dental floss after use. Another method is to use a tongue scraper and smell it afterward​2​.
  • The causes of bad breath range from consuming strong-smelling foods, poor oral hygiene, tobacco use, dry mouth, and certain medical conditions such as respiratory infections, diabetes, and liver or kidney problems​2​​1​.
  • Foods like garlic and onions contain volatile compounds that can cause bad breath. 
  • Absolutely. Poor oral hygiene can result in residual food particles and bacterial growth in the mouth, which is one of the primary causes of bad breath. Regular brushing, flossing, and tongue cleaning are vital to prevent this​3​​1​.

Smoking causes its own distinctive mouth odour and is also a risk factor for gum disease, another common cause of bad breath. It can also lead to dry mouth, which can further exacerbate the problem​2​​1​.

  • Yes, dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, can lead to bad breath because saliva is not available to cleanse the mouth and remove particles that cause odours. Dry mouth can be a side effect of certain medications, medical conditions, or lifestyle choices like smoking and alcohol consumption​2​​1​.
  • Saliva acts as nature’s mouthwash, helping to keep the mouth moist, aiding in chewing and swallowing food, facilitating digestion, and protecting teeth from decay. It also prevents infections by controlling bacterial growth in the mouth. A healthy saliva flow is essential for maintaining fresh breath as it helps to cleanse the mouth and remove particles that can cause odours​1​.
  • The Australian Dental Association recommends brushing for two minutes twice a day using fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between your teeth with floss at least once a day as part of a good oral hygiene routine. This routine helps reduce plaque levels and prevent oral diseases, which are common causes of bad breath​2​.
  • Cleaning your tongue can help reduce the amount of bacteria on the tongue, which may improve gum and tooth health as well as mouth freshness. However, while tongue scraping can help with oral cleanliness, a review of scientific evidence found no definitive proof that it effectively manages the root causes of halitosis. Nevertheless, cleaning your tongue can contribute to overall oral hygiene and may help with bad breath​3​.
  • Mouthwash can be a helpful adjunct in oral hygiene routines to combat bad breath. However, it’s important to select the right type of mouthwash – ideally one recommended by a dental professional​3​.
  • Yes, chewing sugar-free gum can stimulate saliva flow, which helps cleanse the mouth and remove food particles and bacteria that cause bad breath. Some sugar-free gums contain xylitol, a sweetener that can help prevent tooth decay. 
  • Drinking plenty of water is crucial in preventing bad breath because it helps maintain saliva flow. Saliva is necessary for neutralising acids produced by plaque and washing away dead cells that accumulate on the tongue, gums, and cheeks. Without sufficient water intake, these cells can decompose and cause bad breath​1​.
  • Diets high in sugary foods and drinks, onions, garlic, and spicy foods can contribute to bad breath. 
  • Yes, while bad breath is often due to oral health issues, it can sometimes be a sign of more serious health problems. Persistent bad breath can be an indicator of respiratory tract infections, chronic sinusitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal issues, or liver and kidney ailments​5​.
  • Regular dental check-ups are vital for maintaining oral health and preventing bad breath. People with dry mouth or other specific oral health issues may need to visit more frequently​1​​2​.
  • Yes, some medications can contribute to bad breath by causing dry mouth or xerostomia, which reduces saliva production. Saliva is essential for cleansing the mouth and removing particles that cause bad odours. If you suspect your medication is causing dry mouth and bad breath, consult with your doctor or dentist for an alternative treatment plan​1​.
  • Bad breath itself is not contagious, as it’s typically caused by bacteria in one’s own mouth, poor oral hygiene, or health issues unique to the individual. However, certain conditions that may cause bad breath, like infections in the mouth or throat, can be contagious​1​.
  • While no food can “cure” bad breath, some can help manage it. Foods that stimulate saliva production, such as fibrous fruits and vegetables, can help wash away food particles and bacteria. Moreover, certain herbs like parsley, basil, and mint have temporary deodorizing effects​2​.
  • Natural remedies for bad breath include staying hydrated to encourage saliva production, practicing good oral hygiene, and possibly using natural mouthwashes like those made with peppermint oil. Chewing sugar-free gum can also help by increasing saliva flow​2​.
  • “Morning breath” occurs because saliva production slows down during sleep, allowing bacteria to proliferate and produce foul-smelling gases. Consuming water and cleaning your teeth upon waking can help alleviate morning breath​1​.
  • While less common, certain gastrointestinal issues can cause bad breath if they lead to an increase in certain gases or affect the digestion process. However, most bad breath issues are due to oral health problems​1​.
  • Bad breath is often a symptom of gum disease (gingivitis or periodontitis), as the bacteria that cause gum disease also produce odours. If you have persistent bad breath, it’s crucial to see a dentist for a check-up​1​.
  • In children, bad breath can be caused by gum disease, tooth decay, mouth or throat infections, sinusitis, and sometimes, by medical conditions like diabetes. In teenagers, poor dental hygiene, particularly with braces, extreme diets, eating disorders, and smoking are additional factors​3​.

You should consider taking your child to the GP if their bad breath is extreme, doesn’t go away with basic treatments, or if there’s a family history of medical conditions that could be related to bad breath​3​.

  • Good dental hygiene for children includes brushing teeth and tongue twice a day, flossing, and regular dental check-ups. Limiting sugary drinks and ensuring proper water intake are also important​3​.
  • If bad breath is due to an underlying dental or health issue and left untreated, it can lead to more serious health problems, including significant dental health issues like tooth loss from gum disease. Additionally, it may have psychological impacts due to self-consciousness or social embarrassment​1​.
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