By: Tamara Hinson
Bad breath or halitosis is one of the biggest turn-offs, and with Valentine's Day just around the corner, why not give your mouth an MOT? Here's how. What causes bad breath?
It's a common misconception that bad breath originates in the stomach. Not so, says Dr Katz - one of the world's leading experts on bad breath. "It's actually caused by anaerobic sulphur-producing bacteria that breed beneath the surface of the tongue and in the throat and tonsils. These bacteria produce nasty smelling chemicals called volatile sulphur compounds, some of which are known as hydrogen sulphide (the rotten egg smell chemical), and other chemicals known as putrescine and cadaverine (the odours found in rotting foods and dead bodies). "In the mouth, bad breath is more prevalent when the mouth is dry. This is because nature's way of keeping one's breath fresh is saliva, which contains several natural 'anti-halitosis' compounds one of which is oxygen. The bacteria that lead to bad breath are classified as 'anaerobes', which means that they cannot survive in the presence of oxygen, so people who have plenty of saliva always have fresh breath - that's why babies always smell so great - they have plenty of saliva." Saliva shortages
The bad news? As we get older we produce less of this all-important saliva, which is why staying hydrated is so important. "After the age of 25 we produce lesser amounts of saliva, which means everyone has less natural protection," points out Dr Katz. "That is why daily use of an oxygenating mouthwash and toothpaste to replace lost oxygenation from a dry mouth is so crucial. Studies show that older people also have a higher incidence of gum disease and tooth decay because of the fact there's less saliva present." The medication minefield
If you've recently started taking a new type of medication, this could well be the cause of your bad breath. "People taking medication - especially multiple types of...