Bad Breath…what can I do?
One look at pharmacy shelves and all the mouthwash brands there tell me that there is a great concern about bad breath. Let me dispel some myths and offer some advice on this annoying problem.
Why do I have bad breath?
Bad breath is caused by odor-producing bacteria that grow in the mouth. When you don’t brush and floss regularly, bacteria accumulate on the bits of food left in your mouth and between your teeth. The sulfur compounds released by these bacteria make your breath smell.
Certain foods, especially ones like garlic and onions that contain pungent oils, can contribute to bad breath because the oils are carried to your lungs and out through your mouth. Smoking is also a major cause of bad breath.
Won’t mouthwash take away my bad breath?
Mouthwash only gets rid of bad breath temporarily by masking the odor with a minty flavoring. Also, most mouthwashes contain alcohol, which is very drying to the mouth…and a dry mouth contributes to even WORSE breath. Breath mints and gum, even sugar-free ones, create a similar problem.
What about brushing my teeth? Shouldn’t my breath be good after that?
The truth is that most people only brush their teeth for 30 to 45 seconds, which just doesn’t cut it. To sufficiently clean all the surfaces of your teeth, you should brush for at least 2 minutes at least twice a day. Remember to brush your tongue, too — bacteria love to hang out there. It’s equally important to floss because brushing alone won’t remove harmful plaque and food particles that become stuck between your teeth and gums.
OK, I’ve brushed and flossed regularly, but bad breath is still a problem. What now?
If you are taking really good care of your teeth, but still have bad breath, the problem can be medical (like diabetes or stomach problems) or can signal gum disease or old fillings that are leaking and need to be replaced. In fact, about 85% or people with persistent bad breath have a dental condition that is to blame.
Dr. Andrea Stevens is a cosmetic and family dentist in practice in Kanata, Ontario. If you have dental questions, you can call her at 613-271-7091 or visit her at kanatacosmeticdentist.com Please also feel free to leave comments or questions below, and Dr. Stevens will be happy to answer!