If it's happened to you, you'll never forget it. You're primed to get up close and personal with the person you love, but he or she lurches back as you move forward. You're sitting at a business lunch and the client next to you visibly flinches when you open your mouth. Face it, you have bad breath.
In its simplest definition, bad breath refers to noxious odors produced by bacteria that live in your mouth. These bacteria adhere to your teeth and gums and in surprisingly large quantities upon your tongue, accumulating in tiny residues of food that remain there after you eat. Bacteria feed on these food particles, excreting compounds that cause halitosis. Mouthwashes and breath mints may mask bad breath temporarily, but the only way to cure bad breath is through a regular oral hygiene regimen that consists of brushing and flossing your teeth and cleaning your tongue.
Bad Breath and Your Mouth
If you suffer from bad breath, it's likely that inside your mouth you have dental decay, bad gums, or a tongue that's harboring malodorous bacterial colonies. All of these sources of bad breath can be addressed and successfully alleviated.
Dental Decay and Bad Breath
When food residues remain on your teeth, bacteria feed on them, forming a sticky substance called plaque or tartar. These bacteria excrete sulfurous compounds that erode your dental enamel causing tooth decay. The food particles themselves also decay over time, another source of unpleasant oral odors.
Gum Disease and Bad Breath
Gum disease is the second most common cause of bad breath. Gum disease is most common in people over the age of 35.
Over time, plaque caused by bacteria calcifies and pushes down between the gums and the dental roots, causing the formation of periodontal pockets. These pockets are so deep they can't be cleaned out without professional help. They provide an ideal place for colonies of bacteria to collect, and the waste products from these bacterial colonies have such a distinctive, characteristic odor that many dentists are able to diagnose gum disease simply by smelling a patient's breath.
The Tongue and Bad Breath
Bacteria that live on the tongue cause 90 percent of all bad breath. The tongue is a relatively dry part of the mouth, and its surface is covered with grooves and ridges that trap food particles, dry epithelial cells and sinus drip. When a person has dry mouth, these materials are a perfect medium for the growth of anaerobic bacteria whose broken down products include chemicals with distinctive putrescent and “rotten egg” smells.
Treating Bad Breath
The most effective method of treating bad breath is an oral hygiene regimen that includes: brushing your teeth after every meal, daily flossing, regular tongue scraping and cleaning, gargling with an oral rinse, and professional cleanings and dental checkups twice a year.
Most people brush their teeth twice a day, when they rise in the morning and before they go to sleep at night. Dentists recommend brushing your teeth after every meal as the most effective way to ensure your mouth stays clean enough to prevent bad breath. Even the short time between dinner and sleep is enough time to allow bacteria to begin accumulating on the food particles that remain in your mouth. Most people only brush for 30 to 45 seconds. Dentists recommend that you spend a full two minutes with your toothbrush in hand.
Tongue scraping is an unfamiliar procedure to most Americans but one increasing numbers of dentists are beginning to recommend. As the name suggests, tongue scraping consists of gently chafing the surface of the tongue with an implement designed for that purpose to remove any buildup of food and bacteria on the tongue. After the scraping is complete, the tongue is gently brushed with a small amount of toothpaste and a toothbrush.
Professional cleanings will remove that layer of calcified plaque that builds up on the teeth of even the most zealous tooth-brushers over time. Regular checkups will ensure that any sign of dental disease is treated as soon as it first manifests.
While commercial mouthwashes and breath mints promise to "cure" bad breath, all they really do is mask its symptoms temporarily. A mouthwash like TheraBreath Oral Rinse, however, can actually balance the pH of your mouth to make it inhospitable to bacterial growth, thereby providing long lasting relief against halitosis.
A Clean Mouth Ensures Good Breath
Make sure you carry a toothbrush with you and brush your teeth after every meal. Take that extra minute when your toothbrush is in your hand and get into the habit of cleaning your tongue regularly. Use a mouthwash that attacks the bacteria that cause bad breath.
Proper oral hygiene will help your mouth stay healthy. A healthy mouth is the most effective deterrent for bad breath.