Several people have informed me that they periodically suffer from bad breath but have never been instructed on how to treat it. Bad breath, or halitosis, can cause self-esteem and self-confidence issues, and many are embarrassed to discuss the matter at their regular dental visits. It’s a sore subject, but the good news is that the condition is not permanent and totally treatable!
Here are a few easy tips to bring back the “freshness”:
- Maintain excellent oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth at least twice daily and flossing at least once daily will help control the bad-breath-causing bacteria. Seems pretty simple, right? Well, there actually is a proper technique: angle the brush at a 45 degree angle toward the gums, use short brush strokes, use a soft-bristled brush, brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper, floss each tooth (not just where they touch) by forming a “C” around the tooth you’re flossing (like drying off your back after a shower – same idea), and make sure you brush for at least 2 minutes. Also, regular cleanings (at least twice a year) with your dentist are essential.
- Get the cleaning that your dentist recommends. Many people don’t understand the difference between a regular cleaning and a deep cleaning. Deep cleanings are necessary to clean below the gum line in patients who have gum disease (aka periodontal disease, bone loss, deep pockets, attachment loss, etc). These areas are almost impossible to clean with a toothbrush and require professional attention to remove plaque and tartar that may be the culprit of the foul odor.
- Evaluate your diet. Avoid foods with a noticeable odor, such as garlic and onions. Also, try to aviod skipping meals. Eating aids in stimulating the washing action of saliva and helps to remove bacteria from the tongue.
- Use a mouthwash. Although most mouthwashes only provide temporary relief, combining a rinse and a brush in the middle of the day can be very beneficial. This can easily be incorporated into your everyday routine. Be cautious when using mouthwashes with alcohol, as this may cause dry mouth thus worsening the condition. You may also consider rinsing with a one part water and one part hydrogen peroxide mix for 30 seconds two times a day.
- Chew sugarless gum. This will increase salivary flow and provide a cleansing effect on the teeth.
Give these tips a try! If your bad breath persists, it’s important to visit your dentist as this may be an indication of certain medical conditions.