The truth about bad breath

Although bad breath affects around 90 per cent of people at some point, most don’t realise that they have a problem. And you can’t rely on your ‘bestie’ to break the bad news. Two-thirds of people said they wouldn’t tell a friend that their breath smelt and a third wouldn’t even tell their spouse!

Experts say that the most common cause of bad breath is inadequate oral care. “If plaque and food debris are not physically removed – by correctly brushing, flossing and rinsing – they break down in the mouth, releasing bad odours, as well as causing irritation and disease,” says Dirna Grobbelaar, IVOhealth’s oral hygiene advisor.

How to test your breath

Whilst most people brush their teeth regularly, flossing is often overlooked; 35 per cent of people admitted they “never” floss. “The mouth is not clean until it’s clean in-between,” says Grobbelaar. “If you are in doubt, take the test – pull a length of floss between the teeth and smell it!”

Grobbelaar suggests that if you find flossing awkward or too time-consuming, find an interdental tool that suits your mouth and lifestyle. “There are many options these days, from tiny interdental brushes and floss handles to high-tech toothpicks with built-in fluoride. Look for Sunstar GUM products in pharmacies and dental practices; they have the widest range of interdental tools in South Africa.”

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“Brushing correctly twice a day, cleaning the tongue and interdental cleaning are the keys to the fresh breath confidence that comes from a super-clean mouth,” says Grobbelaar.

To get your ‘kissability’ rating take the Kiss-O-Meter challenge on For each person taking the Kiss-O-Meter challenge, Sunstar GUM will donate a toothbrush to The ToothFairies who volunteer with the Friends of the Children’s Hospital (FOCHA) at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital*.

For expert oral care advice, speak to your dentist or oral hygienist.

Recommended reading: What’s in a kiss? Up to 80 million bacteria

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.