Dry mouth is one of the leading causes of bad breath. With the winter months approaching, experts warn that cases of dry mouth are likely to increase significantly. This may significantly impact the oral health of millions of Americans.
During the colder months, people spend far more time indoors with the heat on. Compared to natural air, gas and oil burners pump out very dry air. For individuals who spend their whole day in this type of climate, the effects can be devastating for their oral health.
A dry mouth causes bad breath and other dental problems because it becomes an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. They thrive and multiply in the warm dry recesses of the mouth. Once they have reproduced to such large numbers, even brushing and flossing may not be enough to completely eradicate them.
Once these microbes have gotten a foothold in the mouth, they may begin to cause halitosis, gingivitis and tooth decay.
Experts say that the most effective way to avoid this is to stay well hydrated and keep the mouth moist. Officials from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research recently told HealthDay News that keeping water and other hydrating beverage around at all times during the winter is extremely important.
The group also recommends that individuals should avoid caffeine and alcohol, which are known to dehydrate the mouth, and consider chewing gum or running a humidifier. This may help neutralize the effects of dry winter air.
For individuals who are trying to avoid bad breath, it may also be important to know some of the factors that contribute to dry mouth. For example, many people suck on hard candy or use mints thinking that it will stimulate saliva. While this may work in the short-term, candy and mints may only worsen the situation down the road if they contain sugar.
Leaving sugar in the mouth for extended periods of time can lead to an accumulation of sticky plaque on the teeth. This also encourages the growth of bacteria. Its effects may be worse than those of dry mouth in the long run.
Keeping these things in mind may help individuals avoid dry mouth, improve their oral health and prevent halitosis this winter. Additionally, specialty breath freshening products may help to hydrate the mouth while killing odor-causing bacteria.