Worried about bad breath? You’re not alone. Millions of people suffer from bad breath, or halitosis. Bad breath can get in the way of your social life. It can make you self-conscious and embarrassed. Fortunately, there are simple and effective ways to freshen your breath.
Brush and floss more frequently.
One of the prime causes of bad breath is plaque, the sticky build-up on teeth that harbours bacteria. Food left between teeth adds to the problem. All of us should brush at least twice a day and floss daily. If you’re worried about your breath, brush and floss a little more often. But don’t overdo it. Brushing too aggressively can erode enamel, making your teeth more vulnerable to decay.
Scrape your tongue.
The coating that normally forms on the tongue can harbour foul-smelling bacteria. To eliminate them, gently brush your tongue with your toothbrush. Some people find that toothbrushes are too big to comfortably reach the back of the tongue. In that case, try a tongue scraper. “Tongue scrapers are an essential tool in a proper oral health care routine. They’re designed specifically to apply even pressure across the surface of the tongue area, removing bacteria, food debris, and dead cells that brushing alone can’t remove.”
Avoid foods that sour your breath.
Onions and garlic are the prime offenders. “Unfortunately, brushing after you eat onions or garlic doesn’t help,” says dentist Richard Price, DMD. “The volatile substances they contain make their way into your blood stream and travel to your lungs, where you breathe them out.” The only way to avoid the problem is to avoid eating onions and garlic, especially before social or work occasions when you’re concerned about your breath.
Kick the habit.
Bad breath is just one of many reasons not to smoke. Smoking damages gum tissue and stains teeth. It also increases your risk of oral cancer. Over-the-counter nicotine patches can help tame the urge to smoke. If you need a little help, make an appointment to talk to your doctor about prescription medications or smoking cessation programs that can help you give up tobacco for good.
Rinse your mouth out.
In addition to freshening your breath, anti-bacterial mouthwashes add extra protection by reducing plaque-causing bacteria. After eating, swishing your mouth with plain water also helps freshen your breath by eliminating food particles.
Skip after-dinner mints and chew gum instead.
Sugary candies promote the growth of bacteria in your mouth and add to bad breath problems. Instead, chew sugarless gum. “Gum stimulates saliva, which is the mouth’s natural defense mechanism against plaque acids which cause tooth decay and bad breath.”
Keep your gums healthy.
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common cause of bad breath. Bacteria accumulate in pockets at the base of teeth, creating bad odours. If you have gum disease, your dentist may recommend a periodontist, who specialises in treating gum disease.
Be alert to dry mouth.
Lack of saliva promotes tooth decay and can cause bad breath. If your mouth is dry, drink plenty of water during the day. Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless hard candy, which helps stimulate saliva. Use a humidifier at night if the air is dry. If your mouth is still unusually dry, talk to your dentist or doctor. Dry mouth is a side effect of certain medications.
See your doctor.
If your bad breath continues despite your best efforts, see your doctor. Bad breath can be a symptom of medical conditions such as a sinus infection, postnasal drip from allergies, lung infections, diabetes, or liver or kidney diseases.
Mouth Bacteria It’s A Jungle In There
Your mouth is a jungle, home to bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. When you open wide a fresh supply make their way inside. Most are harmless, taking advantage of the wonderful hospitality inside you. Let’s looks at some of the many types of bacteria found in your mouth, tongue and elsewhere.
Of all the types of microbes living in your mouth, bacteria are the most numerous. It has been estimated that there are over 100 million in every millilitre of saliva from more than 600 different species. Unless there are open wounds or cuts inside your mouth, most mouth bacteria will do you no harm. Some are swallowed and are killed by stomach enzymes; others perish when they are attacked by enzymes in saliva. However, mouth bacteria are responsible for some of the most common bacterial diseases in humans. And they are gum disease and tooth decay (caries).
What are Some Types of Bacteria in the Mouth?
Here are some examples of the sorts of bugs that can be found in the mouth.
Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans) and similar related species cause tooth decay. The bacteria digest the sugars and starches in foods and produce acids which dissolve tooth enamel.
Porphyromonas gingivalis are associated with periodontal (gum) diseases.
Other types of mouth bacteria include Staphylococcus epidermidis, Streptococcus salivarius, and Lactobacillus sp.
In August 2008 scientists at King’s College Hospital in London discovered an entirely new mouth bacteria species. It’s called Prevotella histicola,nestles in the flesh lining the mouth, and is believed to contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. If you want to make a name for yourself and discover a new bacterium then the mouth is a pretty good place to start. Every drop of saliva contains millions of bacteria, and about half of them are unknown to science.
Mouth Bacteria and Health
There are also strong links between the bacteria in your mouth and overall health and well being, and some types have mouth bacteria have been linked to serious diseases. In 2005 researchers from the Forsyth Institute in Boston discovered high levels of mouth bacteria C. gingivalis, P. melaninogenica and S. mitis, present in oral cancer patients, strongly suggesting a link.
In 2009 University of Buffalo researchers reported a link between the amount of mouth bacteria and an increased risk of a heart attack. That is, the link is not due to the types of bacteria but their numbers.
If mouth bacteria are linked to diseases elsewhere in the body they will provide the basis for simple diagnostic tests that can be used as early predictors of disease. And knowledge of friendly mouth bacteria is spearheading the development of more chewing gums and toothpastes containing the helpful bugs. The idea is that their presence will prevent harmful bacteria from sticking to teeth and causing damage.