1. How do people know they have bad breath?
The truth is that it is extremely difficult to judge this
individually. You may be aware if your halitosis (bad breath)
2. What are the signs of bad breath?
If you notice people seem to draw away from you in conversation
or if a partner seems reluctant to want to kiss you, then you may
have a problem!
3. How can I find out if I have bad breath?
It's hard to do (All personal problems are hard to address) but
try and be courageous and ask a close friend, preferably a partner
with whom you are intimate. They will normally give you an honest
answer, providing you phrase the question correctly. Try "I'm
worried that I may have bad breath - do you think I ought to seek
advice and possible treatment?" This shows you don't just want to
know about a problem, but you want to deal with it too. A loving
partner will be most grateful for your concern. It may be helpful to
consult a dentist to ask their advice. Some surgeries may offer a
service where your breath is analysed by an odourmeter to measure
the level of chemicals which often cause halitosis.
4. If I have bad breath is it always evident?
The degree of severity does depend on the cause. If you have long
standing, untreated gum disease, then probably your halitosis will
vary from severe to very socially unacceptable. Milder forms of gum
disease (Gingivitis) may cause very few episodes of obvious
halitosis. If you allow your mouth to dry (which is almost
unavoidable during sleep) then halitosis tends to worsen. Some
medications will also cause dryness of mouth (e.g. antidepressants,
duretics). Excessive consumption of coffee also worsens bad breath.
Frequent consumption of food containing spices and garlic will not
cause long-term bad breath but will worsen a bad breath problem.
Smoking is a major contributor to bad breath.
5. Does bad breath always originate from the mouth?
Up to 95% of halitosis is caused by bacterial activity in the
mouth. Occasionally the source of any bad odor maybe from the nasal
passages, tonsils or stomach.
6. Is bad breath treatable?
Absolutely YES! Most bad breath can be treated and then prevented
by understanding the causes and then applying thorough and
scrupulous methods of cleaning round the mouth. It is also wise to
consult a dentist directly for advice about any dental cause of
halitosis, particularly established gum disease (Periodontal
disease) or decayed (Carious) teeth. Chronic discharging dental
abscesses and chronically infected wisdom teeth need to be checked
as a possible cause of bad breath.
7. Where does the smell associated with halitosis originate?
The most likely cause is the chemical breakdown of proteins in
food and saliva by a variety of micro-organisms (bacteria). The
offensive odors are due to volatile sulphur compounds (VSC's)
including hydrogen sulphide (H2S), methyl mercaptonm (CH3SH) and
dimethyl sulphide (CH3SCH3). H2S is produced mainly off the top
surface of the tongue and CH3SH and CH3SCH3 enrich the mal odour
from the gums immediately round the teeth (Periodontal Tissues).
VSC's originate from anaerobic bacterial activity (that is a
chemical reaction in the absence of oxygen).
8. Does gum disease cause bad breath?
By far the greatest cause of halitosis is from poor gum health
round you teeth. You should consult a dentist about this but you own
daily care of your mouth at home will transform any bad breath
problem and maintain gum health which in turn will reduce
significantly the risk of tooth loss long term. Cleaning of the
spaces between teeth is essential each day. Any regime for treating
halitosis must include mechanical removal of bacteria and food
debris from between and around ALL teeth. You can get a good idea of
the degree of any possible halitosis problem by smelling the odor
which comes off with dental tape (a type of floss) or interdental
brushes. You will notice the degree of this smell reduces as you
clean regularly and effectively around your teeth.
9. Is there an effective combination of treatment to
Yes. The combination of cleaning by hand (mechanical cleaning),
chemical neutralisation of smells and antibacterial action of
specific medicaments will deal with any bad breath problem caused in