Brushing and flossing are two of the most crucial elements for attacking the causes of bad breath, which is caused by bacteria that live on our teeth and gums. These bacteria feast on food particles left on our teeth, producing what are known as volatile sulphur compounds, the substances that give breath its foul odour.
Brushing and flossing remove the bacteria themselves and the particles they feed on, so that they can no longer produce the odour-producing compounds. Unfortunately, many people do not brush long enough to remove bacteria from their teeth. It takes two to three minutes to brush all tooth surfaces, yet most people spend less than a minute brushing their teeth.
While brushing and flossing are crucial first steps, they do not always eliminate bad breath. This is because odour-causing bacteria hide deep within the crevices of the tongue.
As oxygen-adverse, anaerobic organisms these bacteria live safe from oxygen under a protective layer of mucous, food particles and proteins. Cleaning your tongue with a tongue cleaner can remove this layer and much of the bacteria residing on your tongue. Remember to clean near the back of the tongue where most of the bacteria resides, but be careful not to gag yourself.
A dry mouth is the ideal home for odour-causing bacteria. Saliva normally keeps the mouth moist, helping to wash away the food particles bacteria feed on and dissolving odorous volatile sulphur compounds. Without enough saliva, odour-causing bacteria will flourish.
Actions which dry the mouth or reduce saliva flow can increase bad breath. These include:The use of prescription medications including antihistamines and decongestants,excessive talking,exercising, dieting, drinking alcohol or using mouthwashes containing a high amount of alcohol and smoking. By drinking water we stimulate saliva flow, wash away left-over food particles, and moisten the mouth, making our mouths less hospitable to odour-causing bacteria.
Mouthwashes containing chlorine dioxide are the latest advance against bad breath. Conventional mouthwashes at best only temporarily mask bad breath odour; at worst, they can make the situation worse by drying out the mouth and making it more hospitable to odour-producing bacteria. Chlorine dioxide has been used for years to sanitize water supplies. In these mouthwashes the chlorine dioxide directly attacks the volatile sulphur compounds responsible for bad breath.
If you can't brush after a meal or snack, consider chewing sugarless gum. The chewing action helps cleanse the teeth and stimulates the flow of saliva. Saliva in turn further helps to cleanse the mouth and dissolves odorous volatile sulphur compounds. Make sure, however, to use a gum that does not contain sugar.
Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the gums and ligaments which support the teeth, creating new hiding spots in the gums for odour-causing bacteria. Signs that you may have periodontal disease include: Red or swollen gums,loose teeth,sensitive teeth,pus coming from around the teeth, pain on chewing,and tender or bleeding gums. When dentists treat periodontal disease they can eliminate the bad breath associated with it.
A yearly dental check-up is a good idea for all adults, because people often do not become aware of dental problems until considerable damage has occurred. A dentist can recognise potentially damaging problems early and diagnose other problems which cause bad breath including abscesses, periodontal disease, and impacted teeth.