Causes of bad breath
A man’s breath will ultimately depend on a number of different things, and the main “bad breath” variables are:
- Oral anaerobic bacteria – or more specifically the waste products of oral bacteria. Generally the bacteria lives on the surface of your tongue, especially the back of your tongue.
- Food – The most obvious foods are garlic, cabbage and onions (which contain high amounts of sulfur compounds). However high protein foods (such as meat and fish) are especially problematic because the waste from bacteria that causes bad breath is created from the anaerobic bacteria as they digest proteins.
- Smoking – “Smoker's breath”; need we say more?
- Having a dry mouth – When you have a dry mouth bacteria become more concentrated in the saliva, and they tend to evaporate more readily into the air. This releases the bad odours (from the bacteria) into your breath!
The main actions you can take to get rid of bad breath are:
Brush and floss your teeth
Brushing and flossing are crucial elements for dealing with bad breath. Brushing and flossing remove bacteria and the food that bacteria feasts on so that they can no longer create volatile sulfur compounds VSC). Ensure you brush for long enough! It takes 2-3 minutes to brush all tooth surfaces. If you spend less than this brushing your teeth you are not doing it properly.
Clean your tongue
Regular cleaning of your tongue can be the single most beneficial treatment men can undertake to prevent bad breath! In particular it is the back (posterior) portion of your tongue, which holds the most bacteria, that is the most important area to clean. There are a number of ways to clean your tongue:
- Using a toothbrush: From as far back as possible, make brush strokes outward, toward the front of your tongue, applying some pressure.
- Using a tongue scraper: Some people find scraping their tongue with a tongue scraper is more effective and you will be less likely to gag. Practice tongue scraping by using a spoon and if this is successful, you may wish to purchase a specific tongue scraper.
Mouthwash will NOT be an effective cure for bad breath on its own. However when in used in conjunction with the above advice it will certainly help! In particular look for mouthwashes that kill bacteria (antibacterial mouthwashes) or mouthwashes that neutralize volatile sulfur compounds. Chlorine dioxide mouthwashes are particularly recommended!
Other tips to reduce bad breath…
- Drink plenty of water - Drinking water throughout the day can help to control bad breath.
- Stimulate your mouth's flow of saliva – by chewing gum! Chewing helps cleanse the teeth and stimulates the flow of saliva which helps dissolve odorous volatile sulfur compounds. However be sure to choose sugarless gum.
- Drink green tea - Green teas contain polyphenols, which are antioxidants that protect human cells from damage and help fight bacteria by inhibiting their growth. By killing the bacteria that gives off a bad smell, you can reduce bad breath.
- Clean your mouth well and regularly - especially after eating foods high in protein content. Try to clean your mouth out as soon as possible after eating to remove the protein that oral bacteria thrive on!