Eliminating Bad Breath
Brush and Floss Your Teeth Properly
Brushing and flossing are two of the most crucial elements for attacking bad breath. Bad breath is caused by bacteria which live on our teeth and gums. These bacteria feast on food particles left on our teeth creating volatile sulfur compounds (VSC). These sulfur compounds give breath its foul odor.
Brushing and flossing remove bacteria and the food bacteria feast on so that they can no longer create volatile sulfur compounds. Unfortunately, many people do not brush long enough to remove bacteria from their teeth. It takes 2-3 minutes to brush all tooth surfaces yet most people spend less than a minute brushing their teeth.
Worse yet, few people take the time to floss allowing odor producing bacteria to grow rampantly in the spaces between your teeth. Brushing without flossing is like washing only 70% of your body when you bathe - the other 30% remains dirty.
Clean Your Tongue
While brushing and flossing are crucial first steps, brushing and flossing do not always eliminate bad breath. This is because odor causing bacteria hide deep within the crevices of the tongue.
Ironically, many of these bacteria are anaerobic meaning they can not live in oxygen. How do these bacteria live in the mouth then ? They live safe from oxygen under a protective layer of mucous, food particles and proteins .
Cleaning your tongue with a tongue cleaner can remove this layer and much of the bacteria which resides on your tongue. Remember to clean near the back of the tongue where most of the bacteria resides but be careful not to gag yourself.
Drink Plenty Water
A dry mouth represents the ideal home for odor causing bacteria which flourish in this type of environment. Saliva normally keeps the mouth moist. Additionally, saliva helps wash away the food particles bacteria feed on and dissolves odorous volatile sulfur compounds. Actions which dry the mouth or reduce saliva flow can increase bad breath odor. These include:
The use of prescription medications including antihistamines and decongestants
- Excessive talking
- Drinking alcohol or using mouthwashes containing a high amount of alcohol
By drinking water we stimulate saliva flow, wash away left-over food particles, and moisten the mouth making it less hospitable to odor causing bacteria.
Use Chlorine Dioxide Mouthwashes
Mouthwashes containing chlorine dioxide are the latest advance against bad breath. Conventional mouthwashes at best only temporarily mask bad breath odor. At worst, conventional mouthwashes can make the situation worse by drying out the mouth making it more hospitable to odor producing bacteria
Chlorine dioxide has been used for years to sanitize water supplies. In these mouthwashes the chlorine dioxide directly attacks the volatile sulfur compounds responsible for bad breath.
Chew Sugarless Gum
If you can't brush after a meal or snack consider chewing sugarless gum. This chewing action helps cleanse the teeth and stimulates the flow of saliva. Saliva in turn further helps to cleanse the mouth and dissolves odorous volatile sulfur compounds. Make sure, however, to use gum which does not contain sugar .
Check for Signs of Gingivitis and Other Dental Problems
Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the gums and ligaments which support the teeth. Periodontal disease creates new hiding spots in the gums for odor causing bacteria. Signs that you may have periodontal disease include:
- Red or swollen gums
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Pus coming from around the teeth
- Pain on chewing
- Tender gums
- Bleeding gums.
When dentists treat periodontal disease they can eliminate the bad breath associated with it.
Get a Dental Check-Up at Least Once a Year
A yearly dental check-up is a good idea for all adults. This is because people often do not become away of dental problems until considerable damage has occurred. A dentist can recognize potentially damaging problems early. In addition, the dentist can diagnose other problems which cause bad breath including abscesses, periodontal disease, and impacted teeth.
Disclaimer: The information contained within is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to serve as delivery of medical care. Those persons with specific medical questions should consult their dentist, doctor, or other medical care provider.