While it is not a medical emergency, halitosis – a foul odour emanating from the mouth – is a distressing condition. Experts say the number one reason people suffer from chronic bad breath is poor oral hygiene. Coffee, alcohol, onions, spices and low-carb diets are also likely culprits.
If you have bad breath or wish to prevent it, here are some simple ways to deal with it.
It’s no rocket science, but brushing at least twice a day will keep bad breath at bay. It’s also important to be methodical about brushing and make sure you’re getting all of the surfaces of your teeth and gums. It is advised you brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes, especially first thing in the morning and before bedtime
An ultrasonic toothbrush is a good choice, but the best way to get below the gum line and in-between teeth is to floss at least once every day. If you leave food between or below the gum constantly, it just sits and rots—and that smells.
- Drink up
If you’re not drinking enough water, your salivary flow decreases, which can cause breath to be more concentrated. Always carry water with you and be sure to drink and swish around in your mouth throughout the day.
- Replace your toothbrush
This should be done every two or three months. Studies show that after three months of normal wear and tear, toothbrushes are much less effective at removing plaque from teeth and gums compared to new ones. The bristles break down and lose their effectiveness in getting to all those tricky corners around your teeth.
- Get the right mouthwash
Mouthwash does a great job killing the bacteria that causes bad breath, but if it has high alcohol content, it can be too drying and actually cause bacteria to grow. Look for an alcohol-free mouthwash and ingredients like menthol, eucalyptol or thymol instead. Also, wait 15 minutes after brushing to rinse so the mouthwash will be effective.
- Use a tongue scraper
Brushing your tongue only gets to the surface, but a tongue scraper used every time you brush is much more effective. The tongue harbours tons of bacteria and it’s a huge surface area in the mouth. Hold the tip of the tongue with gauze to pull it forward in order to clean the back of the tongue.
- An apple a day
Fibre-rich fruits and vegetables that require a lot of chewing help to clean out the teeth and the vitamin C will kill bacteria.
- Chew gum
Chewing sugarless gum throughout the day can help to clean out food particles in the teeth and keep the mouth moist.
- Drink tea
Swap out your afternoon coffee for a cup of green or black tea instead. Both contain polyphenols, which prevent the growth of bacteria.
- Visit your dentist
Visit your dentist every six months for oral exam and professional cleaning. If you have mouth odour, it’s important to find out where it is coming from and whether or not it’s due to a medical condition or a dental problem. Since bacteria can live in the deep pockets below the gum line, your dentist can make sure you’re brushing and flossing properly.