Nobody wants to bring it up. I talk to my patients about all kinds of issues, but the topic of bad breath is often the most difficult for patients to bring up and discuss. Many people feel embarrassed and ashamed – they either know they have it or someone else has told them. Regardless of your experience with “bad breath,” knowing where it comes from and how you can prevent it will give you the confidence to battle this common affliction.
Bacteria live all over our mouths. Some are good, others are not so good. The “not so good” bacteria secrete two things that contribute to a negative environment: acid and sulfur. It is the sulfur we need to be concerned about when we talk about bad breath.
Sulfur is that stinking, rotten egg smell which comes from our gas stove when someone leaves it on too long. The more bacteria, the more chance to have a sulfur smelling mouth. Controlling how much bacteria we have in our mouth centers on knowing where the bacteria is hiding. Once we can clean the area where the bacteria lives and control their numbers, we can usually be more confident that our breath is not offensive.
Their Favorite Hiding Spots
Bacteria are found in two locations in our mouth in high quantities: our tongues and around the gum line.
Our tongues can hold billions of bacteria between taste buds. If we are neglecting our tongues when we clean our mouths, we are ignoring a huge factor in how our breath will smell – so make sure you clean yours!!! Cavities and leaking old fillings may also create hidden zones in our mouth full of these stinky bacteria.
The gum line is also a very popular area where bacteria hide. Between the tooth and the gums is a small pocket area that is the perfect hiding place for bacteria. Clean these pockets by brushing at a 45 degree angle with small, light circular strokes. Minty fresh mouthwash can give temporary relief from bad breath, but it does not adequately remove the bacteria causing the offensive smell so the relief only lasts 10-15 minutes.
When to be Concerned
Chronic bad breath (halitosis) may also be a sign of underlying medical issues such as GERD (a form of acid reflux), sinus issues, or diabetes that may need to be treated by a physician.
You may feel that this issue is very sensitive, but it’s nothing your dentist isn’t well-equipped to handle. Talk to them openly about any concerns you have, and keep the nasty bacteria at bay by following the oral hygiene tips above. Performing the necessary steps to control the bacteria in your mouth will ensure that not only your breath be ideal, but that your entire oral health will be as well.
This post is sponsored by Light Dental Studios. They will be hosting a FREE(seriously!) dental event in Puyallup on Saturday, January 30, 2016 and invite you to come by for services. See below for details!