Did you know that there are millions of bacteria living in your gum line and on the back of your tongue? When these bacteria are left alone, they eat off the proteins and food particles in your mouth and then release gases known as volatile sulfur compounds. As a result, cavities and periodontal disease can form over time, but more immediately, bad breath sets in. According to a recent Fox News article, about 10% of the cases of chronic halitosis, or bad breath, are due to a more serious health condition. Infections, pneumonia or bronchitis can cause bad breath, as well as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), diabetes, or liver or kidney conditions. But for the remaining 90%, bad breath is caused by consuming “fragrant” food and beverages and poor oral hygiene.
If you find yourself battling bad breath on a regular basis, there are several simple solutions that can help keep your mouth feeling fresh and clean. Check out these easy tips.
- First, visit your dentist. It’s very important to determine the cause of you bad breath, and rule out a more serious medical condition. Your dentist can also help you develop a more effective dental hygiene routine if your halitosis is caused by an abundance of bacteria.
- Follow a consistent, effective oral hygiene routine. Brush at least twice a day, being sure to methodically cover all of the surfaces of your teeth and gums. While an ultrasonic toothbrush is an effective tool, nothing cleans below the gum line and in-between teeth like flossing. It is recommended that you floss at least once a day.
- Stay hydrated. When you don’t drink enough water, your salivary flow decreases, causing bad breath to be more concentrated. Sipping water throughout the day will help avoid this stinky situation.
- Use mouthwash, but choose carefully. While most mouthwashes do a great job killing the bacteria that cause bad breath, it can have a high alcohol content, drying out your mouth and promoting an environment where these same bacteria thrive. Find an alcohol-free mouthwash, preferably with ingredients like menthol, eucalyptol, or thymol instead. Also, wait about 15 minutes after brushing to rinse, when mouthwash is most effective.
- Use a tongue scraper. While brushing your tongue cleans the surface, using a tongue scraper every time you brush is much more effective.
- Enjoy a glass of wine occasionally. A recent study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry finds that drinking red wine in moderation can inhibit the growth of bacteria. Just be sure to rinse with water afterwards to avoid any potential staining.
- An apple a day keeps the bacteria away. Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables that require a lot of chewing help clean teeth and the vitamin C kills bacteria. Win-win.
- Chew sugarless gum. Not only does chewing gum help clean food particles from in and around teeth, it also helps to keep your mouth moist.
- Add tea to your beverage lineup. Instead of having an afternoon cup of coffee, try green or black tea. Both contain polyphenols, which prevent the growth of bacteria.
- Take probiotics supplements. They help cut down on candida yeast that lives on the surface of the tongue, causing bad breath.
While experiencing bad breath is very common, choosing to live with it doesn’t have to be. By following these simple steps, you should be able to either eliminate the problem. And if you can’t, visiting your dentist will help identify the source and together, you can develop the appropriate treatment plan.
Written by Mark Paulsort
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