This Singaporean Dentist Shares Her Best Tips On How To Get Rid Of Stubborn Bad Breath!

Portrait of Dr Jaclyn Toh
Dr Jaclyn Toh

February 13th, 2019· 5 min read

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I just want to be prepared...

At some point in time, most of us have bad breath. Usually, this situation can be easily rectified with a simple swish of mouthwash or by brushing and flossing.

However, for some people, the awful smell persists for weeks, if not months!

Stubborn bad breath can make you feel awkward in social situations, cause emotional distress, and lower your self-esteem. It can be embarrassing and tough on those around you.

A 26-year-old female Human reader wrote in to share her story. She revealed that she has been having bad breathe since she was 9. Despite implementing an extensive dental hygiene routine involving flossing and tongue scraping, she feels that the scent has only gotten worse.

Dr Jaclyn Toh, an experienced dentist, responded to the distressed reader with an in-depth answer. Here's what she had to share.

Unhealthy gums or teeth can lead to bad breath

unhealthy gums causes bad breath

The most obvious culprits for bad breath would involve unhealthy gums that haven't been checked or untreated open cavities that lead to the production of foul odours.

Of course, if you're thorough with your dental hygiene, the source may be altogether different.

Your dentist should detect the underlying cause

dentist can detect bad breath

Since bad breath is primarily caused by the presence of gum disease and tooth decay, it's normal for your dentist to pick up on the underlying cause during a routine examination/visit.

Make sure you see the dentist regularly as treatment could eliminate bad breath completely.

Typically, it all boils down to one thing; Bacteria

bacteria in mouth

Bacteria that live on the surfaces of our teeth usually plays a large role in bad breath. This bacteria breaks down protein and in turn, produces strong smelling gases that mix with the air that we exhale.

There are not-so-typical causes of bad breath too

Less common causes of bad breath do exist and may be slightly harder to pinpoint. These include a dry mouth or mouth breathing, a high protein diet, and frequent caffeine consumption.

Also, postnasal dripping (when mucus leaks from the back of the nose into the throat) is a possibility.

They all share 2 things in common

At the core of the issue, possibilities for the cause/causes of bad breath share 2 things in common.

Dryness in the mouth (lack of saliva) and increased protein levels in the saliva, so consider these other causes of bad breath (assuming that you've been cleared of dental disease).

Chronic mouth breathing can lead to bad breath

chronic mouth breathers

A lot of patients that come to Dr Jaclyn are usually chronic mouth breathers who also experience chronic nasal congestion either from allergies or sinusitis.

In these instances, patients report the worst smelling breath is in the morning after a night's sleep.

There are several ways to optimise your oral health

do not use mouthwash for bad breath

Your mouth's natural defence mechanisms can be boosted relatively simply.

Avoid foaming toothpaste, avoid alcohol-containing mouth rinses (they strip the lining of the mouth and worsen dryness) and reduce caffeine consumption to prevent dry mouth.

Also, add more veggies to your meals

vegetables can help with bad breath

Switching to a high plant-based diet can help tremendously with reducing bad breath compared to high protein diets that can increase the possibility of bad breath.

Probiotics may work to manage bad breath

probiotics for bad breath

When it comes to probiotics, they are still a relatively new method of bad breath management.

The new dental probiotic (BioGaia) has shown promising results but other conventional probiotics may not work as well because the bacterial species they use that are found in a healthy gut may not correspond with good bacteria species found in the mouth.


Bad breath can be managed as long as you're aware of the underlying causes and act swiftly to tackle them. Take Dr Jaclyn's advice and consult a qualified dentist for suitable solutions.

Would you like to ask any related health questions?

You can Ask A Doctor right away, or view the complete list of Human Sessions.

I hope that you've found this guide useful, and perhaps gained more insight into the application process. Most of the admissions-related information (admin and logistics wise) can be found on the official NUS Faculty of Dentistry website.

To help yourself out, you should take note of what people look for when they look for a dentist.

This article was written by Dr Jaclyn Toh and published on Wednesday, 25 January 2017. Human medically reviewed the article on Wednesday, 25 January 2017. The last update was made on Friday, 18 September 2020.

Disclaimer: Opinions belong to the author and not to the platform.

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