Patient information from the BMJ Group
Bad breath is a common problem. It can be embarrassing, but there are treatments that can help. We've looked at the best and most up-to-date research to produce this information. You can use it to talk to your dentist or doctor and decide which treatments are right for you.
Everyone gets bad-smelling breath occasionally. It’s common first thing in the morning, and after eating strong-smelling foods. It usually goes away when you clean your teeth. This information is about bad breath that lasts through the day. It’s sometimes called halitosis. It’s usually caused by gum disease or bacteria on your tongue. Gum disease is caused by plaque. Plaque coats your teeth. It’s mainly made of bacteria, which can infect your gums. Early, mild gum disease is called gingivitis. Advanced gum disease is called periodontitis. Bacteria growing on your tongue give off bad-smelling gasses. You’re more likely to get this if you smoke, don't brush your teeth regularly, or don't produce enough saliva. Saliva helps keep your mouth clean. Some people worry that they have bad breath when they don't. They continue to worry even after they've been examined and reassured. This can be very upsetting.
What are the symptoms?
People may notice an unpleasant smell when you talk or breathe out. It's possible to have bad breath without knowing. That's because you get used to the smell of your own body. If you worry you may have bad breath, you could ask a trusted friend, or visit your dentist. You can get a rough idea of what your breath smells like. You lick your wrist, wait a minute for it to dry, then smell your wrist. That tells you how your tongue smells. Your dentist can probably give you all the help you need with bad breath. As well as testing your breath, your dentist should check your teeth, gums, and tongue. If your dentist can’t find any problems, but agrees your breath smells bad, he or she may suggest you see...
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