It’s a fact of life that we all have not-so-fresh breath at times. However, being associated with bad breath is downright embarrassing. Most of us can recall meeting someone for the first time and being hit with an unpleasant odor emanating from their mouth. Unfortunately, each time we see them afterward, that’s the memory that seems to stand out most.
None of us want the association with bad breath. And, if you suspect you have bad breath, you probably do. With a few simple measures, however, you’ll be able to enjoy fresh breath and feel more confident when being close with others.
First, let’s establish the origin of bad breath. In a word, bad breath is the result of bacteria. Oral bacteria in the mouth are the cause for about every problem that occurs in your ‘oral cavity’ (the inside of the mouth).
Periodontal (gum) disease is the result of an overload of oral bacteria. Keep in mind that bacteria are living, eating and reproducing organisms. They eat away at rotting food in the mouth and attack tender gum tissues. As they accumulate, a sticky film known as plaque forms. If not brushed away daily, plaque hardens on teeth into tartar (or calculus). This cement-hard form of bacteria attacks tooth enamel and gums.
One of the symptoms of gum disease is persistent bad breath. This is a foul odor in the mouth that exists even shortly after brushing. Gum chewing and mints may lessen it some, but it is actually the scent of gum tissues being destroyed in the mouth. Think of it this way: When a camp fire is extinguished, the smell of the burnt wood remains. Even after dousing the ashes with water, you can still smell the burnt scent. Because the tissues in the mouth are being destroyed, the lingering odor prevails even after brushing.
Dry mouth is a contributing factor in bad breath, primarily because oral bacteria thrive when they are not being rinsed away through saliva. Saliva is your mouth’s natural cleanser and sweeps bacteria out on a consistent basis. Without sufficient saliva, bacteria are able to reproduce at a more rapid pace.
Several causes for dry mouth are smoking, some illnesses, snoring and mouth-breathing, and certain medications. The aging process also leaves adults with less saliva flow. Drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages are also drying to the mouth.
When you feel your mouth is dry, the ideal aid to the saliva you have is drinking filtered water. Water is the perfect beverage when it comes to supporting your oral health. It also helps to keep your body more hydrated, which aids in overall function. Chewing sugarless gum also enhances saliva flow and is advised after meals when brushing is not possible.
The tongue is also a tremendous source of oral bacteria. With its tiny grooves, bacteria embed in the tongue and enjoy a warm, moist haven for reproduction. This is why using a tongue scrapper daily or brushing the tongue with your tooth brush can help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth quite a bit. Be sure to get to the back of the tongue where the majority of oral bacteria live (even though you may cause some slight gagging while doing so).
If you want fresh breath, the key, obviously, is to control the amount of bacteria in your mouth. Begin with a clean mouth through your six-month dental cleanings and exams. These appointments help to remove buildup that has accumulated between visits, reducing the amount of bacteria in the mouth.
Then, twice daily, brush for at least two minutes, floss daily and use a tongue scraper or brush your tongue. Drink lots of water during the day. Try to avoid sugary treats or drinks since bacteria are super-charged by sugars and carbohydrates. Swish after eating or drinking, especially coffee or a glass of wine to counteract drying effects.
Love your mouth and your reward will be fresh breath and a healthy smile. If you’re behind on your dental hygiene visits, call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to arrange an appointment.