Just about all of us has on occasion suffered from that notorious passion killer - bad breath (or halitosis as it’s technically called). Infrequent cases of bad breath are usually the result of digesting strong foods such as garlic or onions. But persistent bad breath is a greater problem.
Does my breath smell?
Fear not as there’s an easy way to test for this. Lick the inside of your wrist with the back of your tongue. Wait a few seconds for the saliva to dry and then give your wrist a sniff. If it smells bad then the chances are your breath does too.
What causes bad breath?
The most likely cause is poor oral hygiene. The bad smell comes from sulphur gases produced by bacteria in the mouth. The bacteria thrives where there is a build-up of food in the mouth - for example in small pockets around our teeth and among the bumps at the back of the tongue. As the bacteria breaks down the food so it releases its noxious fumes. Persistent bad breath can also be a sign of gum disease. Bad breath also sometimes occurs following an illnesses or as a result of taking certain medicines.
How to treat bad breath
Improving oral hygiene is the first step. You dentist can advise on this but regular brushing of your teeth, gums and tongue, plus frequent flossing in between your teeth and rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash should freshen things up a bit. Gum disease should be treated by your dentist and you may need to see a hygienist for a professional clean. If these changes fail to make a difference a visit to a GP may be in order in case the halitosis indicates an underlying medical condition. Sometimes problems with the stomach or airways can lead to bad breath.