Avoid Bad Breath

Posted on Sep 11, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Whether at work, home with family members or mingling at social gatherings, knowing our breath is fresh makes us feel more confident. Naturally, we can’t always count on having fresh breath. A morning of coffee or a hot dog lunch, for example, can leave us sensing that being in close proximity can raise an eyebrow. Even worse, bad breath can leave an impression – a lasting one, at that.

Occasional bad breath is a nuisance and can generally be controlled with good oral hygiene, keeping our mouth moist and limiting sugar. However, frequent bad breath is not only embarrassing, it is a warning sign.

Persistent bad breath is one of the symptoms of periodontal (gum) disease. You may also notice tender gums that bleed easily when brushing or have swollen areas around some teeth.

However, gum disease can begin without obvious warning signs. By the time symptoms emerge, it is often at a level known as gingivitis. If not resolved promptly, subsequent stages will require prompt treatment.

As gum disease advances, symptoms include gums that turn red in color and become sore, swollen and bleed easily. You’ll have persistent bad breath and may develop pus-filled pockets near the base of some teeth. Eventually, teeth loosen and require removal.

The majority of bad breath (known clinically as ‘halitosis’) comes from the accumulation of oral bacteria in the mouth. Oral bacteria coat the teeth, gums, tongue, inside of cheeks and roof of the mouth.

Good saliva flow helps to keep this bacteria moving out of the mouth. However, when brushing is infrequent or insufficient or the mouth becomes dry, saliva becomes unable to manage the bacteria levels in the mouth.

Another contributor to oral bacteria in the mouth is wearing a denture. The ‘gum’ portion of a denture is made from a porous material. Bacteria are able to live and breed in these tiny hideouts. Food that is caught between teeth and not removed by brushing or flossing also contributes to bacteria growth that saliva can’t always keep up with.

As bacteria thrive and reproduce, they coat the inside of the mouth and form a sticky film. This film is known as ‘plaque.’ Plaque that remains for more than a day or so can harden into ‘tartar,’ or ‘calculus.’ This attaches to teeth and is resistant to being brushed or flossed away. These bacterial masses attack tooth enamel and gum tissues if not removed by a dental professional.

Keeping a moist mouth is very important to oral hygiene. Drinking plenty of water during the day is advised. Colas, sweet tea, and energy drinks actually make dryness worse. You should also monitor the medications you take (both prescription and over-the-counter) and look for side effects that include oral dryness. And, smoking is one of the worst contributors of all to oral dryness.

Proper brushing and flossing is necessary. Brush for at least two minutes twice daily and rinse thoroughly. Use a circular motion rather than scrub teeth back and forth to avoid damaging tender gum tissues. Never use a hard bristle tooth brush or brush with harsh substances such as baking soda!

The tongue harbors a significantly high percentage of oral bacteria.

After brushing, use a tongue scraper to uproot oral bacteria embedded in the grooves of the tongue. This will significantly lower bacteria levels. As a matter of fact, Dentistry IQ states that “A study at the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine found that 80 to 90% of bad breath comes from bacteria on the tongue” and is “the largest niche for microorganisms in the oral cavity.” (http://www.dentistryiq.com/articles/2014/04/a-deeper-look-into-tongue-cleaning.html)


An advantage of achieving and maintaining a clean, healthy mouth is having confidence when close to others. Plus, you’ll be contributing to the health and well-being of your entire body. Research has shown that a healthy mouth is a supportive component of a healthy you!

If you are experiencing symptoms of gum disease or are concerned your breath is frequently bad, call 828.274.9440. Let’s help you establish a healthy smile and feel confident in closeness!

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