Let's cut straight to it, bad breath stinks. It's off putting to be around, has huge impacts on social situations, and no one wants to be the culprit. Unpleasant smelling breath is most likely caused by a build-up of plaque, however there are times when it could be indicative of a much more serious condition.
For example, sweet smelling unpleasant breath could indicate diabetes, a rotten-egg type odour could indicate liver problems and kidney problems could be signaled by a fishy scent. This is not always the case so it’s always important to get regular dental checks and consult with your dentist should you have any concerns about your breath. It should also be noted that sometimes bad breath can be caused by a build-up of bacteria in deep grooves within the tonsils and have very little to do with what is going on with the teeth and gums. If this is the case, a referral to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist may be warranted.
To protect us (and our mates) from the hazards of bad breath, Dr Lewis Ehrlich shares his top tips for staying minty fresh, and improving your oral health in the process.
1. Stay on top of your oral hygiene regime. This means brushing for at least 2 mins, twice a day and flossing at least once a day. It is important to brush in a systematic way so we don’t miss certain areas of the mouth repeatedly. We tend to be creatures of habit and we will brush the same way over and over again. If we are missing the same spot for months or years on end, this can result in bad breath. Also, most people don’t realise that they should be flossing underneath the gums. This is where the most aggressive, inflammatory and odour-producing bacteria live.
2. See your dentist or hygienist regularly for professional cleans. Some plaque is tenacious and difficult to remove. Having a thorough clean every 6 months is always a good idea if you want to keep your gums healthy and your breath smelling fresh.
3. Practice oil pulling. Get a tea-spoon of coconut oil in the mouth for 15 minutes first thing in the morning and swish it around. The fat within the coconut oil helps to ‘pull’ plaque from underneath the gums and reduce the amount of odour-producing bacteria. Obviously, spit it out, don’t swallow it.
4. Use a tongue scraper. The tongue provides a perfect environment for odour-producing bacteria to live and is often a neglected area in people’s oral hygiene routine. Get yourself a tongue scraper to reduce your risk of bad breath.
5. Breathe through your nose. Nose breathing has so many health benefits and can make for improved sleep, but it also means that there is increased saliva in the mouth. Mouth breathing dries out our saliva and you miss out on the flushing and lubricating effect that it provides. This can increase your risk of bad breath and decay.
6. Stay hydrated. So many of us drink alcohol and coffee which can dry the mouth. Skip these beverages and opt for the H2O to keep the mouth fresh.