We’ve had loads of questions to the Embarrassing Bodies website about bad breath. Now I think the first thing you need to know is whether you’ve got bad breath or not, and a very simple test is the lick and sniff test. It’s really easy; you just lick the inside of your wrist, leave it for ten seconds and then sniff. If it stinks then it’s highly probably that your breath pongs as well.
Lots of you are asking questions about brushing your teeth and using mouthwash and why, if you do that, why does your breath still smell. The reason is many of you probably aren’t doing it properly. You really need to brush your teeth for two minutes morning and night-time, and ideally with an electric toothbrush rather than an ordinary toothbrush.
That just gives a good clean and ensures that all of the food particles are removed. The other issue is flossing and I think lots of us have a fear of flossing, we feel it’s time consuming but it really is a must. Next step is investing in a tongue scraper; scrape all that gunk at the back of your tongue, it may make you gag but it will definitely make you smell a lot sweeter if you remove it.
And finally, mouthwash. Again use it twice a day and ideally use a preparation that doesn’t have any alcohol in it, because overuse of alcohol based mouthwashes can actually sometimes lead to bad breath.
Lots of you have been leaving messages about having bad breath when you’re on a diet and the reason for that is that lots of us choose a high protein, low-carb diet, and in doing so the build of protein tends to make our breath stink. So it’s really important, if you are on one of these diets, just to realise that this is a spin-off and actually trying a low calorie, well balanced diet will a much more favourable effect on your breath.
A really common cause of bad breath is dehydration and you may be really dehydrated after a very, very sunny day, if you’ve been exercising, if you’re hung-over or even if you’re ill so it’s vitally important to get your eight glasses of water a day and if you have been exposed to excessive exercise or excessive heat drink more, take 50% more of that and you’ll ensure that your mouth is well hydrated and your breath should be absolutely fine.
I’ve had an interesting message left which was ‘does oral sex cause bad breath?’ I’m not aware that it does, certainly from a medical point of view but plausibly, if the genitals aren’t clean then of course you can feel that your breath is smelly afterwards and it may be obvious to others. The other thing is that sometimes people have a low grade infection, like maybe a thrush infection in the genitals and therefore this can be passed from down below to the mouth, and a thrush infection would give rise to a build up of white gunk and debris on the back of the tongue which can smell and can also be quite sore. So my advice is if you are concerned about this then make sure that obviously you’re nice and clean in the mouth, and that the genitals are absolutely scrupulously clean down below, and you shouldn’t have any further problems.
Loads of you are talking tonsils on the website. ‘Are my tonsils making my breath smelly?’ Well if you are unlucky enough to suffer from tonsil pits, so these are little craters on the surface of your tonsils, which look like the surface of the moon, and these become filled up with food particles, then these can be a problem and can make your breath pong, because the food particles rot and create a smell after several days. Don’t try and remove them please, many people have a habit of trying to pick these bits of food out. That can be quite dangerous, can result in bleeding or infection, so don’t do that. If you are someone who suffers from recurrent tonsil infection, so from bacterial infections or viral infections, where your tonsils get coated in white gunk, and you become unwell with a temperature, go and see your GP because if your tonsils are really giving you recurrent trouble it may be that you simply need to have them out.
There are other medical conditions which you need to think about as well so if you are someone that suffers from chronic sinus congestion and a drip back the back of your throat remember that this can run into your mouth and really, really create a stinky breath. So too can reflux of acid so that’s acid coming up from your stomach and reaching the back of your throat, again that is very, very smelly. And other problems, like liver problems or general medical problems may too result in smelly breath so if you think you’re doing the right thing as regards your teeth and your oral hygiene do go and chat to your GP about your breath.
Doctor Responses: Bad Breath
There can be several causes of bad breath, and most of us struggle with it at one time or another.
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