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Causes and simple fixes for bad breath

We’ve outlined a few simple solutions to combat bad breath

Man holding his hand up to his mouth to smell his breath
Man holding his hand up to his mouth to smell his breath

Bad breath. It’s anxiety-inducing, isn’t it? Whether it’s a first date, job interview or dinner with the in-laws, there are plenty of occasions in life that bring us awfully close to the people around us. It can be hard enough to confidently navigate your way through these social scenarios without having to worry about the scent of your breath.

But all hope is not lost! We’ve outlined a few simple solutions to combat bad breath that’ll have you feeling fresher than a pillow with a mint on it.

Causes of bad breath

Let’s take a step back. Before you can start to fix the problem, you need to know what’s happening to cause it in the first place. Bad breath (known as halitosis) can be caused by lots of different things, ranging from food residue to tobacco and gum disease. Here are a few of the most common causes:

Poor oral hygiene

If you skip brushing your teeth, don’t clean your tongue and associate flossing with the Fortnite dance, then chances are you’ve increased the amount of food remaining in your mouth during the day. When these food particles break down, they create an odour and just like that, you’ve got yourself some funky-smelling breath.

Your diet

If you’re a regular twice-a-day brusher, but your morning breath seems to stick around well into the afternoon, your diet could be to blame. That’s because there are certain foods that can remain in your mouth, producing bacteria growth. Meat, fish and dairy are particular nuisances, but other foods like onions, some spices and garlic can also have this effect, which produces halitosis.

Credit: nib health insurance


As if we didn’t already have enough reasons to ditch tobacco products, smoking is a sure-fire way to having a nasty odour in your mouth (not to mention the fact it increases your risk of developing gum disease and cancer).

Your toothbrush

Bad breath can also be caused by not changing your toothbrush regularly enough or forgetting to clean retainers, bite splints, dentures, mouthguards or any other dental accessories you use.

A dry mouth

Is your mouth drier than the Sahara? Saliva helps to keep your mouth clean, so if you're lacking moisture – or if you’re taking any medication that’s resulting in a dry mouth – food particles are more likely to stick around.

Medical conditions

Considering our mouths are connected to both our respiratory and digestive systems, medical conditions that affect these areas of our body can cause bad breath as a side effect. Mucous production, the effects of diabetes and inflammation of the sinuses can cause halitosis. These aren’t the only medical conditions that can leave you feeling less than fresh, but they are some of the common ones.

Bad breath treatment

If you’re keen to change the way your breath smells, here are a few things you can try to make a difference.

Keep your mouth clean

That means brushing your teeth regularly (at least twice a day), cleaning your tongue and, everyone’s favourite, flossing! Having a clean mouth ensures there are minimal leftover food particles growing odour-producing bacteria.

Clean your dentures

Keeping your mouthguards, splints, retainers and dentures clean is crucial. Bacteria can grow on these when you’re not wearing them, so make sure you clean them regularly.

Replace your toothbrush

We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the toothbrush you’ve been putting in your mouth probably has about 10 million (yep, you read right) bacteria on it right now according to The Journal of Advanced Medical and Dental Science. If it’s been a while since you’ve replaced your toothbrush, a fresh one will help keep the bacteria at bay. Find out how often you should be replacing your toothbrush.

A man holding his hand up to his face to smell his breath

Drink more water

Drinking water can increase the amount of saliva in your mouth and helps keep your mouth clean. Just make sure you're using a good quality water bottle and cleaning it often. Another way to increase the amount of saliva in your mouth is by chewing orange or lemon rind. Citric acid both fights bad breath and stimulates your salivary glands.

Say goodbye to smoking

Not only can it leave foul-smelling odours in your mouth, but smoking is also proven to have numerous health detriments.

Don’t skip your dental check-ups

Dentists will check that your teeth and gums are healthy and give your mouth a good clean while you’re there.

Is it time for a dental check-up?

Our nib First Choice network should be your first port of call to keep your out-of-pocket expenses low. It’s our community of specially-selected health providers who have agreed to provide nib members with quality healthcare and great customer service at an affordable price.

You can choose to see the dentist of your choice, but by choosing an nib First Choice provider, it simply means you could pay less. Search the nib First Choice network now to find a provider.

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