Reviewed by
Dirna Grobbelaar, Oral Hygiene Advisor
Updated on January 17, 2024

Do you ever worry that your breath smells unpleasant?

Bad breath, medically known as halitosis or oral malodour, affects most people at some point in their lives.

Here’s expert advice and 6 simple steps to help you beat bad breath and maintain a fresh, healthy mouth.

WHAT IS BAD BREATH?

According to Angelique Kearney, past president of the Oral Hygienists’ Association of South Africa (OHASA), “More than half of South Africans suffer from bad breath, medically known as halitosis. It goes hand in hand with poor oral hygiene, which causes gum disease and other oral health issues. Only a very small percentage of cases of oral malodour are caused by sinus problems or metabolic diseases.”

Inadequate oral care will leave plaque and food debris inside the mouth. When these break down, they can release foul-smelling volatile sulphur compounds.

The bacteria that cause bad breath also thrive in a dry mouth. This is why many people experience ‘morning breath’ as there is reduced saliva in the mouth when sleeping. It is also why people with dry mouth (also known as xerostomia), are more likely to experience bad breath.

DO YOU HAVE BAD BREATH?

It’s not always easy to know if you have bad breath. Some people are completely unaware they have a problem and other people worry that they have halitosis even when they don’t. Unfortunately, because it is a rather sensitive topic, people avoid telling even close friends and family that their breath smells unpleasant.

The best check is to directly ask a loved one or dental professional.

If this isn’t an option an alternative is to lick your wrist, starting from the back of the tongue to the tip. Allow the saliva to dry for 10 seconds and then smell the area for any unpleasant odour.

Another method is to clean in-between your teeth, especially ones at the far back, then sniff, If the floss smells bad, your breath probably does too.

To see how your breath scores do the GUM Fresh Breath Check

DAILY ORAL CARE FOR FRESH BREATH

 

One of the most effective ways to prevent bad breath is an effective daily oral care routine. Here are 6 steps to the ultimate daily clean, fresh breath and a healthy mouth:

Brush

Brush correctly twice a day, for a full two minutes. Use an egg-timer, stopwatch or a brush with a built-in timer to make sure you brush for the required time. Use a soft-bristled brush and small movement, holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to clean gently under the gum line. Don’t brush too hard as this can damage gums. Sonic toothbrushes – like the Philips Sonicare or GUM Sonic Daily have been shown to remove more plaque than a manual brush. Replace your brush every 3 months or when the bristles start to look worn.

Go in-between

Clean in-between your teeth every day. Even the most careful brushing can’t reach right between the teeth; daily flossing or interdental cleaning is crucial. If in doubt, sniff the floss! If you do not feel confident how to clean in-between correctly, read all about interdental cleaning here and see our oral hygiene advisor Dirna Grobbelaar demonstrate how to ‘floss like a boss’. Or ask your dentist or oral hygienist.

Clean your tongue

According to Professor Mel Rosenberg the back of the tongue is the most frequently overlooked source of bad breath. “In about seven out of ten cases, halitosis is caused by bacteria breaking down postnasal drip, food debris or cells accumulated on the tongue.” Gently scrape this away every day, using a teaspoon or Sunstar GUM Tongue Cleaner.

Rinse

For extra fresh breath confidence, rinse with mouthwash, as a final step in your oral care routine, after eating or at times brushing isn’t convenient. Use an alcohol-free mouthwash (like Dentyl Dual Action or Sunstar GUM Original White.) You can also chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva and naturally ‘rinse’ the mouth.

Check

To see how effectively you have cleaned your mouth, chew a tasty cherry-flavoured Sunstar GUM Red-Cote Disclosing Tablet. It will reveal any areas you’ve missed so you can brush and floss again until your mouth is completely clean.

In addition to your daily routine, book an appointment with your dentist at least once a year and ideally go for a professional clean every six months. Dentists and oral hygienists have the expertise and tools to remove plaque and tartar that are unable to shift, even with the most meticulous oral routine.

 

TOP TIPS FOR FRESH BREATH

  1. Follow an effective daily oral care routine
  2. Eat a wholesome breakfast in the morning
  3. Chew sugar-free gum after meals or when the mouth is dry to stimulate saliva flow
  4. Drink plenty of water to maintain good hydration

For a monthly dose of expert oral care advice, plus exclusive offers and the chance to win exciting prizes, subscribe to Ivohealth News here.

The information provided on this website is intended for general informational purposes only. It should not be construed as medical advice or used as a substitute for professional medical diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, oral hygienist or another healthcare provider regarding your oral health or other medical conditions. Reliance on information provided on this website is solely at your own risk.

RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS

GUM Access Floss 50pcs

R160,00
GUM Access Floss is an expanding floss with a built-in threader that makes it easy to insert and floss around crowns, bridges, implants, orthodontic braces or between wide interdental spaces. Effectively removes plaque and debris for healthier gums and teeth. Features
  • Built-in threader for easy insertion
  • Expanding floss for superior cleaning
  • Quality, shred-resistant floss
  • Recommended by dental professionals
Who is it for? Adults with bridges, crowns, implants or very wide gaps between the teeth. Professionals: oral hygienists, general dentists, orthodontists and prosthodontists.

GUM HaliControl Tongue Cleaner

R87,00
GUM Dual Action Tongue Cleaner efficiently removes dental plaque, food debris, and dead cells from the surface of the tongue. One side of the tongue cleaner consists of two rows of bristles that reach into the tiny folds and crevices on the tongue surface to dislodge the dental plaque and debris. The other side of the cleaner consists of two rows of scrapers that remove the loosened plaque and debris for thorough cleaning.
  • Daily tongue cleaning has been proven to be an effective tool in the fight against bad breath
  • Two rows of bristles reach into tiny grooves on tongue surface to dislodge bacterial plaque
  • Two rows of scrapers removes the loosened bacteria for effective tongue cleaning
  • Narrow head limits gag reflexes

Dentyl Mouth Rinse Clove 500ml

R122,00
Dentyl Active is a distinctive alcohol-free mouthwash with an advanced two phase formula to fight plaque and freshen breath for up to 12 hours. Simply shake to activate, then swish and rinse. Dentyl Active will lift bacteria and plaque from teeth and gums. For visible proof, look in the sink! It’s the two phases that makes Dentyl Active so effective yet gentle. Aqua-based antibacterial phase one helps remove bacteria; phase two contains natural essential oils that help gently moisturise oral tissue. Because it’s alcohol-free, Dentyl Active doesn’t sting or dry out the mouth. It contains fluoride to support healthy teeth and gums and is clinically proven to help freshen breath for up to 12 hours.