I have bad breath

Bad breath is usually brought on by the breakdown of proteins by bacteria somewhere in the mouth. However, there are several other possible causes that can also lead to bad breath.

No one likes to be on the wrong end of bad breath, let alone suffer from it. But it doesn’t have to mean the end of the world. In fact, most people suffer from bad breath occasionally, and it’s not surprising when you think about all the things like alcohol, sweets, coffee and even smoking that we may subject our mouth to on a daily basis.

Bad breath can be caused by a number of other things too: like dental decay, gum disease, catarrh, excessive bacterial activity in the mouth and throat, tonsil infection, food trapped between teeth and even a dry mouth. Luckily, all of these can usually be sorted out easily.

Gum disease

Gum disease is extremely common and can happen at any age. It starts with the build up of plaque on and in between the teeth and can escalate quickly from there. Plaque is a mixture of food and bacteria that accumulates on your teeth after eating and if not removed by brushing, plaque starts to irritate and inflame the gums. Any plaque that can’t be removed then slowly starts to harden to something called tartar. If this tartar continues to build up, then further irritation and inflammation around the gum occurs – and this could lead to gum disease.

Advanced gum disease

As tartar builds, the inflammation it causes slowly begins to affect the bones around the teeth causing the teeth to loosen to the point where they may fall out or need to be taken out by a dentist.

What are the symptoms? Many people with gum disease are unaware they have a problem because it's often 'silent' with no pain or symptoms. However there are a few things you might notice which could indicate early stages of gum disease:The first sign of gum disease is usually bleeding from your gums when you brush your teeth. Gums may become swollen, red and uncomfortable.You may have bad breath.There may be an unpleasant taste in the mouth. More advanced gum disease can lead to loosening of the teeth or even abscesses in the gum.

Who is most at risk?

Although anyone can get gum disease, it's more likely in people who don't clean their teeth regularly or those who find it difficult to clean their teeth properly. Braces, dentures and irregularities in tooth shape or spacing can make it difficult to reach an area with a toothbrush.

Other factors that may lead to gum disease are:

Smoking, this is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of gum disease. * It can also lower the chances for successful treatment. Unfortunately some people are just more prone to severe gum disease than others.

What can I do about gum disease?

Your dentist may recommend using: An antiseptic mouthwash and an electric toothbrush - tests have shown that those with an oscillating-rotating action (head rotates back and forth) remove more plaque than manual ones.

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