Can We Talk About Bad Breath?
Have you ever met someone for the first time and was immediately thrown off guard by their breath odor? Most of us have had this encounter at least once. Chances are, every time that individual is seen or mentioned, your first thought is most likely of their bad breath.
Could this be YOU? No one wants to be remembered for bad breath. No one wants to worry incessantly their breath, either. If you’ve ever worried about your breath odor, you probably should be. While our breath may not be ‘fresh’ after a morning of coffee or a hot dog with onions, frequent bad breath is borne from a deeper issue.
The most common causes of frequent bad breath are dry mouth, gum disease, certain diseases, or poor oral hygiene. Not brushing sufficiently, failing to floss to remove food particles caught between teeth, and a mouth that is overloaded with bacteria are ingredients for smelly breath.
Medical conditions that can also contribute to bad breath include sinus infections, tonsillitis, acid reflux, bronchitis, diabetes and some allergies. Smoking (a choice rather than a medical condition) is another common cause for bad breath. The nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco are very drying to oral tissues. When saliva flow is depleted, your mouth is not being cleansed of bacteria at a sufficient rate.
Oral bacteria are living, eating and reproducing organisms in your mouth. And, bacteria breed more bacteria, rapidly. As eating creatures, they also defecate. Just the thought of this process in your mouth should motivate regular brushing and flossing.
If your bad breath is medically-related, ask your Doctor about ways to overcome the problem. For example, if you take medications that are drying to the mouth, ask about alternatives without this side effect. Also, consider using an oral rinse that replaces moisture in the mouth. Several are available over-the-counter.
Dry mouth can also occur from certain foods and beverages. Caffeine is drying to oral tissues and you should monitor your intake of coffee, tea, chocolate and soft drinks. Spicy foods are also drying to oral tissues. Alcoholic beverages have a drying side effect as well.
Why worry about bad breath when, with simple steps, you can reduce oral bacteria levels and feel confident in close situations with others? The following steps require just minutes per day.
- Brush twice a day for at least two minutes each time. Use a soft bristle tooth brush and use a light swirling motion. Get behind all teeth when brushing and finish up by brushing the tongue. This will remove bacteria embedded in the tongue.
- Floss daily. This removes particles that become trapped between teeth and scrapes off plaque buildup. Plaque is the sticky film you feel on teeth when oral bacteria levels are high. Take this film as a warning sign to brush! If flossing is awkward for you, purchase an electronic flosser.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day with filtered (not flavored) water – the ideal beverage.
- Limit sugar. Sugar and simple carbohydrates such as crackers, bread and potato chips are the perfect food for oral bacteria. These foods ‘super-charge’ their ability to reproduce.
- Rinse or chew gum after eating when brushing isn’t possible. Chewing sugarless gum will activate saliva flow and help move oral bacteria from the mouth. Or, swish with plain water if possible.
- Wait 30 minutes after eating before brushing. This gives the acid levels in your mouth (part of the digestive process) a chance to subside. This acid is intense enough to soften tooth enamel. Therefore, brushing immediately after eating can be too abrasive on teeth.
- Beware of breath mints and mouth washes that can freshen your breath on a temporary basis but actually make matters worse. For example, mouth wash that contains alcohol can dry out oral tissues. This merely increases your risk for bad breath soon after the ‘minty’ smell wears off.
Having a clean, healthy mouth will help you feel confident about your smile. With the above steps combined with your 6-month check-ups, you should be able to easily achieve a fresh mouth that never labels YOU as “the one who has bad breath.”
Maintaining a healthy mouth can only occur when you achieve a health mouth to maintain. Begin with a consultation to discuss the steps we offer to help you enjoy a confident smile that is easy to keep in healthy shape! Call 219-987-5733 to schedule.