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Bad Breath

Halitosis, or bad breath, can be an upsetting problem. It can impact on your social and professional life.

It’s a problem that many of us experience at some point in our lives. And for some, bad breath can be more than an occasional problem. If your bad breath is severe or constant, it can affect your daily relationships and impact negatively on your self-esteem. Good oral hygiene habits and lifestyle changes can improve bad breath. In some cases, you may need to visit your dentist or GP to understand what is causing your bad breath and address any health concerns. It may be a sign of an underlying health issue. 

When to see a dentist

If in doubt, check it out.

Book an appointment to see a dentist as soon as possible if:

  • Your bad breath has been persisting for more than a few days
  • The odour is particularly noticeable or concerning
  • You have pain in your mouth, toothache, bleeding or sore gums

Are you in pain?

Call us if you’re experiencing pain and need emergency dental care. We’ll get you in to see us fast for an urgent appointment.

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Symptoms of bad breath

It’s pretty simple to pick up on the symptoms. You may notice that your breath isn’t quite right, or you may be alerted to the smell by a friend or colleague. Let’s face it, it’s not nice to know you have bad breath. But if you have a trusted friend or family member who can be honest with you about it, you’re one step closer to remedying the problem. Let's face it - it's also hard to tell someone they have bad breath.

Some symptoms can be more severe than just an off smell. Your bad breath may hang around for a few weeks, your gums may be sore, bleeding or swollen, you may have toothache, or if you have dentures, you may be having problems with them. In all of these cases, it's important to book an appointment with your dentist to discuss your concerns and look at treatment options.

Causes of bad breath

Bad breath generally starts in the mouth, however the causes of this problem are varied and many. They can include:

  • Poor dental habits such as infrequent brushing and flossing
  • A build-up of food on the tongue, between the teeth or along the gums
  • A build-up of plaque, which can be from infrequent visits to your dentist or hygienist
  • Gum disease, tooth decay and dental abscesses

A dry mouth, or xerostomia, can contribute to bad breath. Saliva helps to wash food particles away, so a lack of it impedes this function. Some medications, smoking and breathing through your mouth can contribute to a dry mouth. Excess alcohol consumption can decrease saliva production as well. What you eat can play a role in the onset of bad breath too. A diet heavy in certain foods including garlic, onions, coffee, protein and sugar could contribute to bad breath. Bad breath can be caused by other health problems. Infections in the nose, throat and lungs, sinus and bronchial issues, and digestive problems can impact on the quality of your breath. Other factors such as stress, dieting, snoring and hormonal changes can also affect your breath.

Related treatments

Your dentist will examine your mouth carefully to diagnose the cause of your bad breath. You may need one of these common treatments.

Get prepared

When you book at one of our dental practices for bad breath you want to get to the bottom of it quickly. And clear it up as soon as possible. We understand. It’s useful to think ahead about what your dentist will need to know to diagnose and treat your problem.

Generally your dentist will ask you about your medical history and then thoroughly examine your mouth, teeth, gums, jaw, tongue, throat, sinuses, ears, nose and neck. You may also need an x-ray, depending on what your dentist suspects might be the cause of your bad breath.

Your dentist will ask you some questions about problems you’re experiencing, such as:

  • When did your bad breath start?
  • How noticeable is the odour?
  • Have you made any changes in your dental routine?
  • Has your diet changed?
  • Are you experiencing any pain?

Think about your answers to these questions before your appointment. Being prepared can speed up the diagnosis.

Have questions?

The price of treating bad breath varies, depending on what is the underlying cause. Bad breath may be helped by changes to your oral health routine or diet. But it may be a symptom of something serious, so we recommend that you see a dentist to check it out. Your dentist will be able to diagnose the cause and advise you about the cost of treatment. When you book online, simply select bad breath as your appointment reason.

Bad breath can be the indicator of a health issue within your body. Common problems that can cause bad breath include sinus problems, tonsillitis, digestive issues, kidney and liver disease, and diabetes. Visit your dentist in the first instance. Your dentist may also recommend you see your GP.

Saliva plays an important role in our dental health. It helps to wash away food particles and bacteria from your mouth. If you have a dry mouth, these food particles linger and bad breath may develop. While we sleep, our saliva production reduces, which is why we often notice our breath isn’t quite as fresh when we wake up.

Some spicy and pungent foods can be noticeable on your breath for at least two days after eating them. Onions, garlic and coffee are just a few that we know that can be detected on the breath.

Practicing good oral health at home can improve many cases of bad breath. A major cause of bad breath is build-up of plaque on your teeth. Regular brushing and flossing can help remedy this. Make sure you combine good at-home dental care with a great relationship with your dentist.

We recommend daily healthy habits and regular visits to the dentist. For optimum oral health:

  • Practice good oral hygiene habits at home including brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day
  • Book hygiene visits with an oral hygienist or oral health therapist twice each year
  • Book routine exam and x-rays visits with your dentist once each year

The Lumino Dental Plan is a cost-effective way to ensure your oral health is given the priority it deserves. It’s an affordable ongoing subscription plan that keeps you on top of your oral health. We know that when you look after your oral health properly with regular preventative care, you’ll be less likely to need to see a dentist in an emergency. You’re also likely to spend less money at the dentist over time.

Maintaining regular and effective oral hygiene habits at home can improve the instance of bad breath. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. A tongue scraper used once a day can be helpful. Keep up your water intake to avoid dehydration and reduction of saliva. Quit smoking, avoid sugary food and drinks and limit your alcohol intake.

We get it. We’re New Zealand’s largest group of dentists so we’ve seen more scared patients than any other dental practice in the country. For most people who are scared about visiting the dentist it’s because they’ve had a bad experience in the past. Relax. Our gentle and compassionate dentists understand how you feel. Whether you’re anxious or worried about experiencing more pain or the potential cost of the treatment, the best thing to do is to let us know how you feel. Making sure you feel comfortable is part of our job.

What next

Learn more about what's next by viewing some possible treatments. We recommend you book an appointment with a dentist for specific advice about your symptoms. You can search for your nearest practice and book online today.