Bad breath affects millions of Americans, and while it can come from anywhere in the nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, or gut, the most common origin is in the mouth. All bad breath comes from bacteria producing smelly gases, so the goal in fighting it is to remove any collections of bacteria.
Improve Your Oral Hygiene
Our mouths are full of bacteria, and they are not all bad. The ones producing bad breath, though, tend to gather together in large colonies of dental plaque. Plaque can and will accumulate in every possible nook and cranny in the oral cavity. This includes areas between the teeth, pockets between the teeth and gums, deep grooves on the tongue and folds in the tonsils.
The first step in fighting bad breath is removing as much dental plaque as you can during your oral hygiene routine. This may involve improving your daily regimen and adding additional tools. Here are the most important ways to have a great oral hygiene routine that removes the most dental plaque.
Great Brushing Technique Twice a Day
Many people brush consistently but still have plaque buildup because they are using the wrong technique. Most plaque collects right where the gums meet the teeth. If your toothbrush bristles don’t touch the gums, you’re probably leaving plaque on your teeth.
The right technique includes using a soft-bristled toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the tooth surface and moving it in gentle circular motions that touch the gums. You must make sure your toothbrush touches every exposed surface of every tooth.
Flossing Every Night Before Bed
Brushing, even with the best technique, cannot remove plaque from between the teeth. Only flossing can do that. To remove all the smelly bacteria from between the teeth, you need to master a C-shaped flossing technique and never miss a night.
Not only does flossing help improve bad breath. It also reduces your risk for cavities and gum disease, which require expensive dental treatment. This $3, 2-minute habit saves you money!
Using an Antibacterial Mouthwash
For the areas of bacterial buildup that brushing and flossing do not reach, add an antibacterial mouthwash. Specific to treating bad breath, there are many mouthwashes available with specialized ingredients. Some of these ingredients to look for in your mouthwash are cetylpyridinium chloride (or CPC), activated chlorine dioxide, and zinc. These ingredients either neutralize the bad-smelling gases or kill the bacteria that produce them.
Make sure your chosen mouthrinse is alcohol-free!Drying out your mouth with alcohol will only worsen bad breath. By vigorously swishing and gargling these mouthwashes, you can effectively remove collections of plaque from the tongue and tonsils.
Adding a Gentle Tongue Cleaner
Notice that we did NOT use the phrase “tongue scraper”. This is because you should never “scrape” your tongue. Dental plaque is quite soft and does not require any aggressive or forceful cleaning. The best tongue cleaners are flexible and rubbery in order to protect the delicate soft tissues of the tongue while effectively removing collections of dental plaque.
See Your Dentist
If you find there is little improvement in your breath after upping your oral hygiene game, you will need to schedule a visit with your dentist. You could have areas of decay (cavities) or gum pocketing (gum disease) that are harboring large collections of dental plaque. Your need a comprehensive evaluation with dental x-rays for your dentist to rule these potential bad breath culprits out.
If you do have areas of decay or gum pocketing, you will need to undergo dental treatment in order to remove the cause of your breath problem. Your dentist can also help identify areas in the mouth that you might be missing during your plaque removal.
Consistent professional teeth cleanings with your dental hygienist will remove all bacterial buildup from the teeth and gums and give you a “clean slate”.
If your dentist rules out any dental disease, you’ve had a professional teeth cleaning to remove all bacteria, and you STILL suffer from bad breath, then it is time to look outside the mouth.
See Your Medical Doctor
Your dentist may refer you to see your medical doctor after ruling out a dental origin of your bad breath. Some other possibilities include infections in the nasal passages, sinus cavities, throat, airway, and stomach. It may be necessary for your doctor to send you to an ear, nose and throat or gastrointestinal specialist for the correct diagnosis and treatment.
Your doctor can also perform bloodwork to look for any signs of metabolic disorders that could be affecting your breath.
More Questions about Bad Breath?
Call Prosper Family Dentistry at 972-347-1145 today to schedule a consultation with one of our fabulous dentists. We can assess your current situation and help diagnose the origin of your bad breath. Schedule a comprehensive oral evaluation with Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara, or Dr. Summer today!