How to avoid bad smelling breath with dentures

Denture breath

How to stop bad breath with dentures

Ever wondered why you have bad breath with dentures? Perhaps you currently have malodorous or stinky breath and are looking for solutions. Halitosis or bad breath is not an uncommon condition. Most people, not just denture wearers, have experienced halitosis at one point or another. According to some of the literature on the subject, approximately 2.4% of people suffer from bad breath.i However you don’t have to be a social pariah because of bad breath; the condition is neither life-threatening nor irreversible, and there are measures you can take to alleviate the problem. The first step is to determine the likely cause of your bad breath.

What is halitosis or bad breath?

But firstly, what is halitosis or bad breath and how does it manifest? Halitosis most commonly occurs when there is build-up of sulphur-producing bacteria in your mouth, tongue, and throat. As the bacteria break down, certain proteins called volatile sulphur compounds, are released resulting in smelly breath.

How do I know if my breath smells?

Unless someone tells you, how do you know if your breath smells? Because you rarely get a sniff of your own breath, it’s not uncommon to be blissfully unaware of your bad breath. Beyond someone you are talking to recoiling with your every out breath, there are other ways to find out if your breath is offensive. Exhaling into cupped palms then quickly sniffing the output is one way. But what if it’s your dentures that are causing your bad breath? To find out, remove your dentures and seal them into a Ziplock bag for a few moments. This is an effective way to know if your dentures are at fault. By unsealing the bag close to your nose then sniffing, it should be apparent if it’s your dentures that smell.ii

Causes of denture breath

So why do these volatile sulphur compounds occur in the first place? Reasons why denture wearers can be susceptible to bad breath include:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Recent tooth extractions
  • Poor health including gum disease
  • Old or poorly maintained dentures
  • Lifestyle factors: smoking, alcohol, and food choices

Poor Hygiene and your dentures

By far the most common reason for bad breath and the easiest way to resolve it is addressing your hygiene practices. Like natural teeth, your dentures can accumulate plaque, a film which coats your dentures causing bad breath. Having a regular oral cleaning regime to remove food particles from your denture and your remaining natural teeth and gums, can help avoid bacterial build-up and the scourge of bad breath. iii

Suggested remedy:

  • Brush your denture thoroughly with a soft brush and floss twice daily, and brush remaining natural teeth at least twice a day.
  • Soak your dentures overnight. Avoid wearing dentures 24/7
  • Drink water during the day to flush out food particles and bacteria when brushing isn’t an option

A bad mouth - recent tooth extractions or oral surgery

You may be a new denture wearer who has recently had tooth extractions and an immediate denture fitted. Sometimes after oral surgery, bacteria can infect the wound and cause offensive breath. Bleeding after oral surgery like tooth extractions, can also cause bad breath. In either case, contact your oral health professional if bleeding or the bad mouth persists more than a day or two.

Suggested remedy:

  • Follow post operative directions from your oral therapist to the letter. This will limit the bad breath phase of your healing
  • Avoid smoking, spitting or drinking through a straw while in the healing phase to mitigate the possibility of dry sockets which can cause bad breath.iv
  • Contact your oral therapist if the problem persists

Poor health and ageing

Poor health can result in bad breath whether you wear a denture or not. Poor health leaves you vulnerable to disease and infection and a reduced ability to recover as you would if you were healthy. Oral health issues like gum disease or tooth decay are likely suspects of stinky breath no matter how good your hygiene practices are.v Medical conditions like diabetes, sinus or throat infections and digestive disorders can also result in bad breath. Certain medications or even ageing sometimes cause a dry mouth which, with less saliva to wash away bacteria, can lead to bad breath.vi Many older people sleep with their mouths open, a practice which causes dry mouth and ‘morning’ or bad breath.

Suggested remedy

  • Adopt a good, twice daily, oral hygiene practice
  • Keep well nourished
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Ask your pharmacist about a saliva substitute if you have a dry mouth
  • Seek advice from your oral health provider or medical practitioner about your medications

Old or poorly maintained dentures

Nothing lasts forever, not even dentures. Irrespective of how well you care for your dentures or how fearful you might feel about getting new ones, dentures have a finite life span and must eventually be replaced. Overtime, the materials from which dentures are made break down, developing microscopic fissures and cracks within which food particles can lodge, thus producing bacterial build-up leading to issues like bad breath.

Suggested remedy

Lifestyle factors: smoking, alcohol, and food choices

Choices you make about lifestyle can also increase the likelihood of bad breath. Smoker’s breath, caused by the chemicals in cigarettes sticking to your dentures, throat and gums cause many health issues, one of which is bad breath.vii Our bodies convert about 90% of the alcohol we consume into acetic acid which is what gives drinkers smelly breath. If our intake is excessive and often, then so too will be the halitosis.viii The obvious food culprits for bad breath are onions and garlic. However, choices around particular diets like a low carbohydrate diet, can produce metabolic disrupting ketones causing your breath to smell bad.

Suggested remedy

  • Avoid smoking, your oral and general health will benefit.
  • Avoid drinking excessively
  • Clean your denture and mouth as soon after eating odour causing foods as possible. Suck on a mint or chew some parsley for fresher breath.

The social downside of denture breath

At the very least, bad breath can rob you of your social confidence and cause anxiety. If your bad breath is a chronic problem, you may avoid social situations, intimate relationships, and therefore miss opportunities because of the fear of your bad breath offending others. At its worst bad breath can impact on your mental health and wellbeing.ix The good news is with a little effort bad breath with dentures can be resolved.

Best products for bad breath may be in your pantry

A few home remedies for denture odor to try:

  • Adopt a twice daily cleaning regime for your mouth, denture, and remaining teeth. Scrape or gently brush your tongue then rinse
  • Drink plenty of water to flush out odour-causing bacteria
  • Rinse your mouth and denture with warm salty water
  • Suck on a clove to freshen your breath. The antibacterial qualities of cloves help avoid a build-up of smelly bacteria
  • Use a mouthwash of apple cider vinegar diluted in water for garlic or onion breath or chew on fresh parsley
  • Oranges containing vitamin C, help to promote saliva production for sufferers of dry mouth
  • Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva glands which help wash away odoriferous bacteria. Special non-stick gums for dentures are available.
  • Avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes which increase dry mouth. Make your own instead using 1 cup of warm water, 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon, juice of two lemons, 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of honey and 1/2 teaspoon of carb soda. Mixed together in a jar the solution will keep for a couple of weeks. x

A final word

There is no doubt offensive breath with dentures can leave a bad taste in your mouth, metaphorically speaking. However, armed with a little knowledge of what causes bad breath, and how you can help avoid the problem or resolve it, you can get on with enjoying your life with the confidence having sweet breath can give.

i https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/halitosis-or-bad-breath
ii https://denturehealthcare.com.au/bad-breath-and-dentures-what-to-do/
iii https://www.polident.com/en-au/denture-journey/getting-dentures/how-to-avoid-bad-breath-with-dentures/
iv v v https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/halitosis#:~:text=If%20you%20wear%20dentures%2C%20bacteria,diseases%20can%20all%20cause%20halitosis.
vii https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-get-rid-of-cigarette-breath
viii https://www.lpdental.com/why-is-my-breath-bad-5-surprising-causes/#:~:text=Alcohol%20Consumption,breath%20following%20an%20alcohol%20binge
ix https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/halitosis#:~:text=If%20you%20wear%20dentures%2C%20bacteria,diseases%20can%20all%20cause%20halitosis.
x https://www.croasdailedentalarts.com/blog/at-home-bad-breath-remedies/



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