How to banish bad breath for good: Dentist reveals her top tips – and it’s bad news if you drink red wine

  • Dentist Dr Kristina Cain says a third of Australians suffer from bad breath 
  • She said gingivitis starts as a mild gum disease which can build up tartar
  • Dr Cain said to also be careful of foods and drinks that can stain your teeth 

Suffering from bad breath is an embarrassing problem for many.

In fact, according to dentist Dr Kristina Cain, about a third of Australians suffer from halitosis – and most in instances it comes down to poor oral hygiene.

Here, the Queensland dentist revealed the main causes of bad breath – and the simple things you can do to ensure your mouth smells fresh.

‘The same bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease (gingivitis) also produce unpleasant odours if hard plaque (tartar) is allowed to build up inside your mouth,’ Dr Cain said.

Dentist Dr Kristina Cain (pictured) said a third of Australians suffer from bad breath, which can be solved in most cases by improving bad oral hygiene

The principal dentist at Refresh Dental said that gingivitis starts as a mild gum disease which can progress and build up tartar. 

‘Once it’s stuck beneath the gums and on the roots, you can’t get it off,’ she said. 

‘A dentist will need to scrape the roots and clean out under the gums to clean off the bacteria. If you don’t get this addressed, it can progress into severe gum disease and scaling (or scraping) is needed.’

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She said if left untreated, things can get much worse.

‘A more advanced condition is bone loss and gum recession, and increased mobility of the tooth,’ Dr Cain explained.

‘While loose teeth can be stabilised or splinted against other teeth, this is an infection once established you can never really get rid of – and maintenance is required for life,’ she said. 

The principal dentist at Refresh Dental said that gingivitis starts as a mild gum disease which can progress and build up tartar

Dr Cain’s tips for fresh breath

Home care and cleaning: use an electric toothbrush, rinse with mouth washes and floss

Visit dentists for proper descaling: dentists can also address gum disease or bad breath

Change your diet: ease up on the garlic and red wine. Also, smoking will directly progress gum disease. Alcohol can also trigger acid reflux which leaves an odour in the mouth

Mouth wash: particularly ones that contain chlorhexidine which is also recommended if you have gum issues. But you can’t use long term as it stains the teeth

Gum: but make sure it’s sugar-free

If you’re eating garlic at lunch or dinner: get you partner to eat it as well



‘Also, a chronic infection in the mouth, while it doesn’t necessarily cause the problems, once it’s in the mouth can give out some really bad smells.’ 

Other causes of bad breath include food that gets trapped between your teeth – which feeds the bacteria. 

Her top tips to banish bad breath for good was to avoid smoking, use an electric toothbrush and schedule regular dentist appointments. 

A short-term solution she offered was the use of mouthwash. 

‘There are a lot of mouthwashes on the market and these are great for a quick freshen up but with various testing now done, researchers often turn around and change their mind,’ Dr Cain said.

‘I say to patients here is the therapeutic one if you need it. You can use more mainstream washes, but you can’t count on them to fix the problem. 

She added that salt water rinses can help with sore throats and soft tissue inflammation, which can also cause bad breath.

Her top tips for mitigating was to avoid smoking, use an electric toothbrush and schedule regular dentist appointments (stock image)

However if you are experiencing repeated bad breath it is time to go to the dentist. 

‘If an issue is systemic, sometimes the gut can be a problem, fungal candida can smell, there can be issues with lining with the gut,’ she said.

‘Probiotics can be used to help, this reflects on the internal digestive system. Dentists can direct you to the GP or somebody who can do the testing for things including food allergies.’

Dr Cain said to also be careful of food and drink that can stain your teeth. 

‘Remember stay away from the red wine, this can turn teeth pink, along with tomato and soy sauce,’ she said.

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