June 8, 2023

IF you’re conscious your breath smells, the first thing you blame is what you’ve eaten that day – coffee, garlic, red wine or otherwise. 
It’s easy to pop a chewing gum and move on with the day.
But this could just be masking a deeper rooted issue and the true cause of your frequently stonking breath.
Dr Abdullah Zahiri, a Dubai-based dentist providing information on TikTok, has highlighted three reasons why your breath is far from minty fresh.
None of them are to do with the foods you are eating, but your oral hygiene (or lack of).
A bad breath may be the only obvious sign of these under-the-radar problems.
Even those who stick to a religious teeth cleaning routine can’t guarantee prevention of a smelly breath if they are harbouring nasty bacteria. 
Here we dig deeper into the causes Dr Zahiri warned his 90,000 followers of…
When you brush your teeth, do you brush your tongue, too?
The tongue is covered in tiny bumps called papillae. Bacteria and food can get trapped between them, which gives the appearance of a white or furry tongue.
This build-up, unsurprisingly, can cause bad breath.
Some people are more prone to getting a white tongue, including those who breathe through their mouth, smoke, are having cancer treatment or have a weak immune system.
A diet of mostly soft foods or not eating enough fruit and veg can also be the culprit. 
There are also a number of conditions that can lead to a white tongue, including oral thrush, syphilis and oral lichen planus, which may need closer investigation.
How to fix it: Usually a white tongue is fixable. The tongue can easily be cleaned either with your toothbrush or, more practically, a tongue cleaner/scraper.
Dr Zahiri says that calculus can be a cause of bad breath – and you may not even be aware that you have it.
Calculus, also known as tartar, is hardened plaque.
The teeth always have a light layer of plaque over them which you cannot see. But when this isn’t properly removed with daily brushing, it can develop in tartar.
Then you are stuck in a position of needing to see the dentist, as only a professional can remove tartar.
Even if you are properly taking care of your oral hygiene, tartar can build-up in the places your toothbrush isn’t reaching effectively, such as the back.
Tartar doesn’t necessarily cause bad breath, “but it makes cleaning even more difficult”, London-based dentist Dr Mohsin Ghor told Patient.
He added: “It creates ledges and more places for bacteria to thrive. As the bacteria in these areas break down food and drink, the biproduct is often a bad smell."
How to fix it: To prevent tartar, brush your teeth twice a day with an electric toothbrush, use a fluoride toothpaste, floss, use an antiseptic mouthwash, and watch your diet.
Once tartar has formed, only a dental professional will be able to remove it from your teeth.

If you were told to stop eating so much sugar as a child, it was likely to prevent you from getting cavities – small holes in the teeth.
But they can occur at any age, with most people having at least one in their lifetime.
Cavities need to be treated because they can cause more problems later down the line.
They could lead to bad breath as bacteria or bits of food could get trapped in the tiny holes, making it harder to keep the teeth clean and mouth fresh.
This is likely why Dr Zahiri has flagged tooth decay as a key reason for bad breath. 
But that would be the least of your worries, as leaving tooth decay untreated can lead to agonising root canal or removal of teeth.
How to treat it: See your dentist, who can look for cavities and fill them.
Other causes of bad breath
While Dr Zahiri has covered some of the causes of bad breath related to teeth, there are a number of unrelated problems that may leave your breath stonking.
These include, but are not limited to:
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