Have GOOD Breath For The Holidays! And Ban BAD Breath Forever!

Posted on Dec 05, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

The holidays are a time when friends and family bring us closer together. Whether sitting side-by-side at the table or in close conversations at cocktail parties, we find ourselves a little more conscious about our breath odor than perhaps we normally would be.

Of course, we’ve all encountered that individual who has the memorable bad breath. And, what a terrible impression that leaves, which tends to be forever associated with that person. Fortunately, there are easy ways to avoid having bad breath in these situations and to have fresher breath throughout the year.

It is important to know that bad breath is typically the result of accumulated oral bacteria. It’s as simple as that. And, it’s as difficult as that. Like aging garbage, bacteria in the mouth that amass to high numbers create an odor — a stinky odor.

There are a number of things that contribute to the ability of these icky organisms’ ability to reproduce. One that may surprise you is having a dry mouth.

A dry mouth may seem less inviting as a breeding ground for bacteria since they typically thrive in environments that are warm, moist, and dark. However, when saliva flow is unable to efficiently cleanse bacteria buildup from the mouth, they are easily able to reproduce.

A dry mouth is rather common today. A large percentage of common medications (including anti-depressants, decongestants, and anti-histamines) have a side effect of oral dryness. Too, many beverages contribute to a dry mouth. These include colas, coffee, tea, and those containing alcohol.

Another way that oral bacteria can run rampant has to do with our oral hygiene routines. To be truly thorough in cleaning tooth surfaces, it is recommended to spend two minutes per brushing, twice a day. That applies to both manual and electronic toothbrushes.

Even so, it is estimated that nearly one-third of American adults brush their teeth for an insufficient amount of time. Even worse, about that same amount fail to brush twice a day. This means that a frightening number of bacteria are left to grow and thrive in these mouths.

When you factor in that brushing only tackles about half the amount of bacteria in the mouth, you’re left with a tremendous amount that are able to grow and thrive. You may be surprised to learn that the tongue harbors anywhere from 58 to 65 percent of the bacteria in your “oral cavity.”

Oral bacteria love to embed in the tiny bumps and grooves of the tongue since they are not easily dislodged. Thus, it’s necessary that the tongue be involved in your oral hygiene regimen at home to keep bacteria levels under control.

Some toothbrushes have a “tongue scraper” on the reverse side of the bristles that’s an effective option. Or, you can just brush your tongue with the bristles after you’re teeth are brushed. Be sure to reach towards the back of the tongue where the majority of bacteria exist.

Another challenge for maintaining control of oral bacteria have to do with the eating habits of the American population. While “three squares” were once the norm, today’s American has more of a “grazing” schedule.

For example, your “average Joe” may have breakfast, a mid-morning latte, lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, dinner, and a bowl of popcorn or ice-cream while watching television. Throw in coffee, colas, and tea in with this consumption, you have a pattern that works against your smile.

Although saliva is designed to rinse the mouth consistently during the day, this frequency in eating poses more of a challenge than it is capable of handling. Too, food has more opportunities to becomes stuck between teeth. For those who do not floss daily, these bits are left to rot, adding to bacterial growth.

So, how do you avoid being “the one who has bad breath”? It begins with your time at the sink. Slow down! Spend at least two minutes each time you brush. Don’t scrub your teeth but allow the brush to sweep over them, especially near the gum line. Spend extra time, too, going over the tops of large teeth that have deep grooves.

Tend to your tongue. Either brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper. You’ll be removing a tremendous amount of bacteria that can form bad breath.

Floss daily. If it’s difficult for you, ask our hygienist to work with you on your technique so it is comfortable and efficient. You can also purchase an electronic flosser (water flosser). These are affordable and proven to be just as effective as manual flossing.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you take medications that are drying, consider using an oral rinse formulated to replenish moisture (available over-the-counter). If you’re having a beverage that contains alcohol, drink a glass of plain water between each drink. This not only adds moisture to the mouth, it will dilute the acids in the mouth for less potential damage to tooth enamel (and lessen staining).

Not mentioned prior but very important to avoiding oral bacteria buildup – keep your six-month dental cleanings and exams without fail! These visits remove plaque and calculus (or tartar), which are nothing more than gathered bacteria.

These small measures will help you avoid cavities, gum disease, AND be the one who’s easy to get close to at any gathering! If you have tender gums, gums that bleed when brushing, or frequent bad breath, however, you should arrange to see a periodontal specialist as soon as possible.

A periodontist is a dental specialist who has advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of all stages of periodontal (gum) disease. He or she is your best way to have a confident, “get close” smile! Call our Asheville periodontal office at 828-274-9440 to learn more.





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