The Battle with Bad Breath

At Orchard of Smiles Orthodontics our team frequently gets asked questions about remedies for bad breath. Human mouth is home to hundreds of strains of bacteria. It is believed that half of the bacteria in your mouth can lead to bad breath! Halitosis - or bad breath - can have a wide range of causes:

1) Inadequate oral hygiene: Without thorough and regular brushing and flossing, remnants of food remain in the mouth. Food debris is a breeding ground for bacteria. Bacteria metabolizing the remnant food debris can lead to unpleasant dental odor and taste in the mouth. Routine dental check-ups and professional dental cleanings twice a year are also critical to maintaining optimal oral health and minimizing bad breath.

2) Odor causing bacteria on the tongue: certain bacteria strains that reside on your tongue produce pungent smelling surfur compounds. Brushing your tongue in the mornings and using a tongue scraper can do wonders for your breath!

3) Periodontal disease: Active gum disease is a frequent etiology of bad breath and unpleasant taste in the mouth. Periodontal disease requires professional intervention and treatment by a dental professional, typically a periodontist. If you are vigilant about your semi-annual dental visits, any periodontal concerns are typically diagnosed and treated earlier or at the onset.

4) Xerostomia or dry mouth: Saliva has wonderful cleansing properties. With insufficient salivary flow, the mouth cannot cleanse itself efficiently to remove remnant food debris and this can lead to bad breath. Xerostomia can be caused by certain medications, salivary gland disorders and mouth breathing due to nasal obstruction. It is important to understand the specific cause in order to remedy the situation. Some practical suggestions for dry mouth include: sucking on sugar free hard candies to stimulate saliva, drinking lots of water, minimizing caffeine, and avoiding alcohol containing mouth rinse (due to the drying effect).

5) Improper cleaning or removable dental appliances such as dentures, retainers and nightguards. It is important to clean and brush your oral appliances daily to remove any plaque build-up and remnant food debris that could be contributing to bad breath.

Here are some practical tips to keep your breath fresh:
  • Brush twice a day and floss your teeth daily.
  • Rinse regularly with antimicrobial mouth rinse.
  • Brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper as part of your oral hygiene routine.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Snack on raw, crunchy fruits and vegetables.
  • Clean your dental appliances daily to remove plaque, food debris and bacteria (nightguard, retainers, Invisalign trays, etc).
  • Visit your general dentist regularly, twice a year.
  • Stop smoking. Tobacco products not only leave a distinct odor, they also tend to dry out your mouth - and dry mouth can lead to bad breath. Furthermore, smokers are more likely to develop gum disease" and gum disease can contribute to bad breath.
  • Take a vitamin C supplement and/or consume lots of Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps prevent the growth of bacteria in our mouths. Vitamin C is also believed to prevent periodontal infections - and periodontal infections can lead to bad breath.
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