Good tidings for bad breath sufferers


  Posted by: Dental Design      7th December 2023

How patients can combat bad breath over the festive season

Christmas is a time filled with gatherings, parties and delicious food (not forgetting the odd moment, possibly, under the mistletoe!) However, bad breath can quickly dampen the holiday spirit.

As you know, unpleasant mouth odours can result from various factors like food choices, oral hygiene habits, and even underlying health conditions. Fortunately, there are several effective ways to combat bad breath and ensure fresh and pleasant breath throughout the festive season.

One of the primary causes of bad breath is poor oral hygiene. During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is essential patients prioritise regular brushing, interdental cleaning, and tongue cleaning. Brushing teeth at least twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste, as well as paying extra attention to the gumline and chewing surfaces, remains the gold standard. Regular interdental cleaning helps remove hidden food particles and plaque between teeth, preventing foul odours too. Additionally, you can suggest patients use a tongue scraper or their toothbrush to gently clean the surface of their tongue regularly and eliminate odour-causing bacteria.[i]

Drink up

Staying hydrated is key.[ii] And this one’s a toughie: patients should consider limiting their alcohol consumption. Alcoholic beverages are often consumed in abundance during the festive season. However, alcoholic drinks can lead to dehydration and dry mouth, which contributes to bad breath.[iii] Saliva is essential in washing away bacteria that contribute to bad breath. Therefore, when alcohol reduces saliva production, it creates an environment conducive to bacterial growth, resulting in unpleasant breath.

When alcohol is consumed, it undergoes a process called oxidation within the body.[iv] This process converts alcohol into acetic acid, which contributes to bad breath too. Additionally, some alcoholic beverages, such as wine and spirits, have a high ethanol content, which can further exacerbate the problem.

Furthermore, alcohol has a strong odour itself that can linger in the breath. Mixing alcohol with other substances, such as tobacco or sugary mixers, can intensify the smell, making it even more noticeable. Most alcoholic drinks also contain sugar or are combined with high sugar mixers, which isn’t exactly goods new when it comes to oral care either. As an example, two pints of cider equates to 30 grams of extrinsic sugar, which is the recommended daily limit![v]

Drinking an adequate amount of water helps keep the oral cavity moist, preventing the growth of odour-causing bacteria. Patients should aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day to promote saliva production and maintain fresh breath. Drinking or rinsing with water can also significantly reduce ‘morning breath’ after a heavy night on the festive party tiles.[vi] Additionally, smoking and other tobacco products have a well-known negative impact on oral health and breath freshness.[vii]

Food, glorious food

Some festive favourites like garlic, onions, and spicy foods have the potential to produce strong odours when metabolised in the body.[viii] Patients can be advised to opt for breath-friendly alternatives when possible, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and minty herbs. Foods like apples, carrots, celery, and parsley act as natural breath fresheners[ix] and help remove food particles that may be stuck between teeth.

While you should definitely recommend that patients avoid the stickiness of sugary candy cane, chewing gum or sucking on mints (the sugar-free versions) for a short while after meals can help freshen the breath and remove any lingering food debris.iii As you are aware, by stimulating saliva production, sugarless gum and mints can help fight bad breath. You could encourage your patients to choose products that contain xylitol too, a natural sweetener that helps prevent bacterial growth.

Using a mouthwash after brushing and flossing can further help freshen breath. This can be further facilitated through the use of specially-formulated oral rinses, which can provide long-lasting freshness and stop patients worrying about bad breath. Dental professionals could consider recommending The Breath Co oral rinses, which work quickly and last longer to fight bad breath. With 12 hours of guaranteed freshness (when used every 12 hours after brushing and interdental cleaning), your patients can smile with confidence, enjoying much-needed relief from the symptoms of bad breath.

Bad breath can put a damper on the holiday festivities, but by following these practical tips, patients should be able to combat it effectively. Remind them to prioritise excellent oral hygiene habits, stay hydrated, choose breath-friendly foods, limit alcohol and tobacco consumption… as well as book in for their next check-up in 2024!

For more information about The Breath Co, please visit  

Sharon Kidd

GDC – 4566Diploma in Dental Hygiene 1993Hygienist 

Sharon qualified as a dental nurse in The Royal London Dental Hospital in 1988. She trained as a dental hygienist in the Royal Army Dental Corps in 1993. 

Sharon has experience working as a hygienist in a variety of different settings including dental hospital, domiciliary home visits, military, private and general practice. She works with specialists and general dental practitioners to support patients with different needs including those who are nervous to visit the dentist. 

Sharon is also a professional educator for Waterpik, water flosser .

And enjoy family time at home with my husband two teenage daughters and family pets

[i] Kapoor U, Sharma G, Juneja M, Nagpal A. Halitosis: Current concepts on etiology, diagnosis and management. Eur J Dent. 2016 Apr-Jun;10(2):292-300. doi: 10.4103/1305-7456.178294. PMID: 27095913; PMCID: PMC4813452. [Accessed October 2023]

[ii] Ok S, Jeong S, Lee C.  Dehydration as an Etiologic Factor of Halitosis: A Case-Control Study.  JOMP 2021;46:117-124. [Accessed October 2023]

[iii] Porter SR, Scully C. Oral malodour (halitosis). BMJ. 2006 Sep 23;333(7569):632-5. doi: 10.1136/bmj.38954.631968.AE. PMID: 16990322; PMCID: PMC1570844. [Accessed October 2023]

[iv] Zakhari S. Overview: how is alcohol metabolized by the body? Alcohol Res Health. 2006;29(4):245-54. PMID: 17718403; PMCID: PMC6527027.[Accessed October 2023]

[v] R., G. The relevance of alcohol to dental practice. BDJ Team 5, 18025 (2018).

[vi] Int J Dent Hygiene 14, 2016; 124–134 DOI: 10.1111/idh.12149 Van der Sluijs, E, Slot, DE, Bakker, EWP, Van der Weijden, GA. The effect of water on morning bad breath: a randomized clinical trial. [Accessed October 2023]

[vii] Kauss AR, Antunes M, Zanetti F, Hankins M, Hoeng J, Heremans A, van der Plas A. Influence of tobacco smoking on the development of halitosis. Toxicol Rep. 2022 Mar 6;9:316-322. doi: 10.1016/j.toxrep.2022.02.012. PMID: 35284240; PMCID: PMC8908054. [Accessed October 2023]

[viii] Aylıkcı BU, Colak H. Halitosis: From diagnosis to management. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2013 Jan;4(1):14-23. doi: 10.4103/0976-9668.107255. PMID: 23633830; PMCID: PMC3633265.[Accessed October 2023]

[ix] Everyday Health

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