Anna explained that most adults in the UK suffer from some degree of gum disease.
‘If you have gum disease, your gums may bleed when you brush your teeth, you may have bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth,’ she explained.
‘Gum disease is caused by the buildup of plaque on the teeth and gums. Bacteria cause the formation of toxins to form, which irritate the gums. If untreated, it can damage the gums and jawbone,’ she added.
‘If not treated at an early stage, gum disease can evolve into an even bigger problem, Anna said.
‘The early stage of gum disease is known as ‘gingivitis’. If it is not treated, a condition called ‘periodontitis’ can develop. This affects the tissues that support teeth and hold them in place.’
‘If periodontitis is not treated, the bone in your jaw may be damaged and spaces can open between the gum and teeth. Your teeth can become loose and may eventually fall out.’
: Visit your hygienist for a clean and tailored oral hygiene plan to suit your needs.
Anna explained that the bacteria that live in the mouth tend to multiply as the mouth dries out, which means that not drinking enough water could be a cause for bad breath.
‘This leads to a decrease in saliva which acts as a buffer for the mouth. Drinking water can reduce bad breath as you rinse away food particles in between your routine brushing,’ she said.
: Always keep a re-usable water bottle with you and aim to drink two litres per day.
Bad news for low-carb dieters: skipping carbs can lead to bad breath.
‘This is because when the body is primarily running on fat stores, your body breaks down fat for energy, creating ‘ketones’,’ Anna said.
‘One of these is ‘acetone’ which can make your breath have a ‘sweet fruity’ smell or be strong enough to smell like ‘nail varnish remover’.’
: Seek guidance from your GP.
When a person has diabetes, their body either doesn’t make enough insulin or cannot use insulin effectively, Anna explained.
‘Usually, insulin breaks down glucose to provide energy. If the body cannot get its energy from glucose, it starts burning fat for fuel instead producing ‘ketones’.’
‘As the ketones build up, they increase the acidity of the blood, which can be toxic,’ she said.
Seek guidance from your GP.
Many forms of medication will contribute to bad breath by drying up the mouth, Anna said.
‘These include blood pressure medications, antidepressants, sleeping tablets, diuretics and antihistamines.
‘Check your medication leaflet to see if ‘dry mouth’ is a side effect or consult with your GP. You may need to increase your water intake to combat dry mouth,’ she said.
: Stay hydrated and see your GP.
Coffee lovers will know it’s a common cause of bad breath around the office.
‘Coffee has a very strong odour that smells worse than it tastes but it is the caffeine in coffee that can dry out your mouth,’ Anna said.
‘This decrease in saliva allows bacteria to thrive inside your mouth. The bacteria then cling to your tongue, gums, teeth and the inside of your cheeks, which can lead to bad breath,’ she added.
‘It is also possible that if you have dairy milk in your coffee the problem may worsen, as dairy milk encourages bacteria growth.’
Opt for tea or drink water after coffee and use sugar free mints or gum.
We often wake up with ‘morning breath’ because our mouths dry when we go to sleep.
‘If you snore or have sleep apnea, you may have severe drying of the mouth because of breathing through the mouth and not the nose. This way of breathing speeds up the drying process resulting in bad breath in the morning,’ Anna explained.
: Seek guidance from your GP.
Fasting, or even just simply not eating regularly, can have a negative impact on the freshness of your breath, Anna explained.
‘A lack of food and fluid slows down saliva production, and this lack of moisture can contribute to bacterial growth in the mouth,’ she said.
Tobacco is terrible for the breath, and it’s also responsible for staining the teeth, creating loss of taste and gum irritation, Anna said.
‘People who smoke are more likely to suffer from gum disease and have a greater risk of developing cancer. Gum disease is one of the leading causes of bad breath, as outlined above,’ she added.
: Seek advice to quit.
Stress is a risk factor for gum disease, which can cause bad breath, Anna said.
‘Stress can also cause you to have a poor or irregular oral hygiene routine, as well as a dry mouth due to dehydration and breathing through the mouth,’ she added.
‘In stressful times, you may be too busy to eat, drink or breathe normally,’ she said.
Stay hydrated and practice stress management techniques.
Alcohol does dehydrate us, which can cause bad breath.
‘A reduction in saliva production limits the ability for your mouth to self-clean, ultimately causing bacteria to thrive,’ Anna said.
‘Alcohol can also trigger acid reflux, which causes stomach acid to creep up into the throat, and that acid has an odour. Find out what other effects alcohol has on your teeth,’ she added.
: Try not to exceed the weekly amount of recommended alcohol units, which is 14.