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  • Dr Vyla Ellis

How to Slay the Dragon Breath

Unless your Drogon from Game of Thrones, dragon breath is not cool. It can be an embarrassing condition and for some it’s uncomfortable to discuss with health care professionals. Let’s talk about halitosis (bad breath), what causes it and what you can do to slay the dragon breath.

What Causes It?

There are many causes of bad breath. The most obvious causes are those relating to the mouth. Dental decay and gum disease both increase the bacteria in our mouths which can result in bad breath. Similarly inadequate cleaning of the teeth results in food being left behind is a common cause as is heavy plaque build-up on the tongue. A very dry mouth is often associated with halitosis. A dry mouth is common in the morning and in patients taking multiple medications.

Tonsil stones can be very smelly as they are crawling with bacteria.

What we eat can have a big impact on mouth odour. Foods such as garlic, onion and spicy food may linger on the breath for up to 72 hours. Low carb diets result in ketones being produced as fat is burnt. These ketones affect our breath odour.

Halitosis can be the result of an underlying medical condition such as sinusitis, acid reflux, stomach conditions, diabetes and kidney problems.

The other major cause of bad breath is smoking.

What Can I do about it?

Brushing and flossing your teeth will reduce the bacteria load in the mouth which can help reduce bad breath. If you don’t like flossing there are other products that can help clean between the tooth like interdental brushes (piksters) and flossettes (a piece of floss on a handle). Cleaning your tongue is also important. You can use a tongue cleaner or just use your toothbrush and toothpaste to give it a scrub.

Have a dental check-up to detect dental decay and gum disease. Removing the decay by placing fillings and treating the gum disease will help. Having you teeth professionally cleaned with a dental hygienist every 6 months will assist in avoiding halitosis in the future.

Keep your water intake high and limit those beverages that dehydrate the mouth, e.g. alcohol and caffeine. This helps combat a dry mouth and helps wash away food.

Gargling with salt water can help to remove tonsil stones.

If diet is to blame then all the tooth brushing in the world will not help. Altering your diet is the only option in this situation.

Give up smoking.

If an underlying medical condition is to blame then see your GP.

There’s no need to be embarrassed.

If the home care options haven’t solved the problem then it’s time to talk to your doctor or dentist. This is a common issue and the solutions are usually straight forward and easily taken care of.

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