As we enter the holiday season, many of us find it’s a busy time of gatherings with friends, family and co-workers. These events provide wonderful opportunities to catch up in close conversations we often don’t have a chance to enjoy at other times of the year.
We’ve all been in these situations where we wondered if our breath was fresh. And, most of us have also been in conversations where the other party was in dire need of a Tic Tac!
While none of us want to be remembered for bad breath, having fresh breath all the time can be a challenge. A tuna salad sandwich at lunch, several cups of morning coffee, or waking up in the morning aren’t breath-friendly. However, with some proactive measures, you can find yourself with far less anxiety in close conversations.
In a nutshell, bad breath occurs due to oral bacteria. Bacteria are living organisms that thrive on food particles in the mouth and bits stuck between teeth. As bacteria reproduce and accumulate, they form a sticky film known as plaque that coats the teeth and gums. If not removed through brushing, plaque hardens into calculus, a cement-like mass of bacteria that attacks tender gum tissues.
As oral bacteria growth progresses, the gums become inflamed. They are tender and bleed easily when brushing. One of the symptoms of gum disease is persistent bad breath. Brushing, chewing gum and using breath mints will mask it for very brief periods. However, the odor exists because oral tissues are being destroyed in the mouth. Until this ceases, having fresh breath is a fruitless battle.
Dry mouth is another factor when it comes to bad breath. Saliva is your mouth’s natural rinsing agent and washes bacteria away on a continual basis. Without adequate saliva flow, oral bacteria are able to reproduce at a more rapid rate.
Causes for dry mouth include smoking, certain medications, some health conditions, snoring, and breathing through the mouth. Saliva flow is also reduced by the aging process. Consuming alcohol and caffeinated beverages also have drying effects on oral tissues.
When you feel your mouth is dry, the ideal response is to drink water. Not only does water support your oral health, it helps keep your body hydrated so it can function more efficiently. Chewing sugarless gum can also trigger saliva flow. Oral rinses are also available over-the-counter, which help replenish oral moisture.
A tremendous source of oral bacteria is actually the tongue. With millions of tiny grooves, oral bacteria take up residence in the warm, moist haven the tongue offers. Consider using a tongue scraper or brushing the tongue with your tooth brush to lower the bacteria levels in your mouth. Be sure to reach the back of the tongue where the majority of oral bacteria exist.
The best way to ensure your breath is fresh as often as possible is to begin with a clean slate. Schedule an exam and cleanings so we can remove buildup in the mouth and reduce the bacteria levels to a minimum. We will also check for signs of gum disease and make recommendations to halt its progress if found.
Once your mouth is ‘dental office clean,’ your at-home care will help you keep it in great shape. Brush twice a day for at least two minutes, floss daily, and use a tongue scraper or brush your tongue. Drink plenty of water and avoid sugar-laden foods and beverages. Swish after eating or drinking (especially coffee, colas or wine) to counteract drying effects.
Go into this holiday season with a confident smile and fresh breath. Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles for an appointment. In addition to feeling comfortable in close conversations, you’ll also be helping to prevent problems in your mouth brought on by oral bacteria overload.