What do patients want?? Fresh Breath & Whiter Teeth!!
These are the two requests that have not changed in the decades since I graduated from the University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry. The way to manage these requests has changed somewhat, but the core advice remains the same: BRUSH AND FLOSS YOUR TEETH!!
A clean mouth leads to fresher breath. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well why then are we still trying to convince patients that flossing daily (read: every day) and brushing properly for 2 minutes twice a day is such a novel experience? Forming these good habits early on in life should be the goal for all parents of small children. AND, they should model this behaviour for their children to see. Children do what YOU DO not what you TELL THEM TO DO.
So here is my list of Fresh Breath Tips:1. TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR TEETH!
Bad dental hygiene causes 85% of halitosis. If you don’t clean your mouth thoroughly, the bacteria living in your mouth will metabolize the food particles and create smelly by-products (sulfur smells like rotten eggs!)Brush for 2 minutes twice a day and floss every day, and don’t forget to scrape or brush the back of the tongue where the bad bacteria collect.
2. MAKE SURE TO DRINK ENOUGH WATER.
Nutritionists recommend 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. This helps to replenish the saliva in your mouth. Many medications have the side effect of causing dry mouth, so water helps to wash away the bacteria that cause odor. Moisturizing (non-alcoholic) rinses can help.
3. BE MINDFUL OF ALLERGIES.
People who have allergies and can’t breathe properly through their nose often end up breathing through their mouth, causing “mouth breathing gingivitis” which appears as red, painful gums. Make sure to treat your congestion to allow normal breathing to occur.
4. DO NOT EAT THE WRONG FOODS.
Many of these are obvious (garlic, onions, spices) but dairy products can also thicken the nasal mucus and cause a sulfur smell. Also, try to go easy on the bread/pasta/high carbohydrate foods as they can promote more bacteria in the mouth, leading to more odor. Chewing on sugar free gum or mints for a few minutes will help reduce odor and stimulate saliva flow.
5. TAKE CARE OF YOUR SINUSES AND TONSILS.
The sinuses are paired cavities inside your head that function to lighten the weight of the head on your neck and also add resonance to the voice. But, as closed mucous-lined cavities, they are also incubators for infection which needs to be treated by your medical doctor. Tonsil Stones can result after numerous tonsil infections and can feel like little pebbles in the back of your throat. They can emit a strong odor, so old fashioned salt water rinses may help to remove them. (Use one cup of warm water to 1 tsp of salt).
6. BE AWARE OF ACID RELUX.
Many people are unaware of the symptoms of acid reflux. They think it exists only with heartburn or indigestion. Stomach acid when burped up can cause an acidic/vinegary smell to the breath. Dentists are experts at recognizing the effect on your teeth (acid erosion) and your MD can help you to treat the effects on your body (esophagus, stomach) from the repeat exposures to the strong stomach acids. If you have any of these symptoms, please discuss them with your doctor. This is a potentially serious problem.
7. BE AWARE OF MORE SERIOUS CONDITIONS….
In very rare cases, extremely bad breath can be one of the warning signs of cancer in the nose, ear, neck or throat (untreated acid reflux). BUT PLEASE REMEMBER THAT BAD DENTAL HYGIENE IS A FAR, FAR MORE COMMON CAUSE OF BAD BREATH, SO NO NEED TO PANIC, JUST SEE YOUR HYGIENIST!
- Also, DON’T SMOKE/VAPE/CHEW TOBACCO!
- NEVER SHARE A TOOTHBRUSH! Bad breath can be contagious if you share a brush + the bacteria on it. There are over 500 different bacteria that reside in the mouth’s natural flora.
- See your dentist and hygienist regularly on a schedule recommended for you to stay in optimum condition. Never skimp on your dental health, it is so vital to your overall health!
Stay tuned for part 2, where we describe the best way to get whiter teeth!