Stop Bad Breath


Brushing and Flossing Tips For Bad Breath

Brushing and flossing may not eliminate bad breath but it can certainly help. The vast majority of bad breath (halitosis) problems are generated in the mouth by poor oral hygiene.

Why won't brushing and flossing eliminate bad breath? Here are some of the reasons:

  • Your diet, i.e., what you eat or, in the case of low-carb diets, what you don't eat, is a large factor in whether you have good or bad breath.
  • Several medical conditions may create imbalances in your body chemistry that create bad breath.
  • Some medications that are taken to control medical conditions may cause bad breath as an unintended bi-product of controlling or curing the medical condition.
  • Many people brush and floss regularly but they don't do it properly.

Flossing is the first step. Use dental floss to clean your teeth in the areas that your toothbrush won't reach. Flossing first and then brushing remove the sticky substance that collects between your teeth and eventually hardens into plaque. If you don't floss, that plaque will eventually cause tooth decay and possibly gum disease.

There is an unbelievably wide variety of dental floss available. Floss can range from unwaxed to waxed with mint, peppermint or no flavoring, from super thin, super strong filament style to tape style and there are dental floss holders to make it a less awkward procedure. Generally, a waxed floss is easier to use and a flavored wax even leaves a pleasant taste. Try the floss that your dentist gives you after a cleaning. Chances are that is a good brand and will work well.

Brushing teeth properly is the next step: Many (or even most) people tend to brush too quickly. Lives are so full and so busy and can be so exciting that a mundane task like brushing your teeth seems, at times, like a waste of time so the attitude is: "let's get this over with!" Brushing fast and doing a haphazard job of it leaves many tooth surfaces and crevices covered with bacteria and doesn't remove plaque.

To brush properly you should keep your toothbrush at an approximate 45-degree angle, brushing up from the bottom (from the lower gums toward the top of the lower teeth) and down from the top (again including brushing the gums.) This moves the plaque build-up that you flossed loose, away from the gums where it can and does do most damage.

After brushing the outside of each tooth in the manner described above, repeat the procedure for all of the inside surfaces.

Finally, brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth with a horizontal movement.

If brushing your teeth did not take at least 2 minutes, you're doing it too fast.

Brush or scrape your tongue next: Most people either overlook cleaning their tongue or they just don't know they are supposed to do it twice a day. Scraping or brushing the bacteria and residue from food and drink off your tongue is one of the most effective oral hygiene treatments for halitosis. When cleaning your tongue, clean as far back on your tongue as possible. You may experience a gag reflex but that's normal and you will, over time. If this is the case, do not give up. Keep trying. Use your toothbrush or a specialized tongue brush or a specialized tongue scraper (both specialized tools are available at most drug stores) to brush your tongue from back to front. Use enough pressure to clean it thoroughly but don't overdo it and irritate your tongue.

You might be wondering what you are accomplishing by brushing or scraping your tongue. Brushing or scraping the tongue removes the soft plaque, bacteria and tiny food particles that build up on the top surface of the tongue. By removing the soft plaque from the top surface of the tongue, you are removing most of the bacteria and other debris that are the primary sources of halitosis, tartar and tooth decay.

Now rinse: Most stores carry an overwhelming variety of mouthwashes but even the best mouthwash will only provide a temporary "mask" for your bad breath by removing some of the immediate causes, but they really can't be said to "treat" bad breath. The only effective 'treatment' for bad breath is a combination of good, consistent oral hygiene and a balanced diet.

The vast majority of commercial mouthwashes will temporarily cover up your bad breath, do nothing to treat it and many of them, in fact . . . mouthwashes that contain alcohol, will actually contribute to your bad breath problem. The net effect of an alcohol-based mouthwash on your breath is negative -- the alcohol is drying out your mouth and creating a great breeding ground for the kind of bacteria that contributes most to bad breath.

Next time you go to buy mouthwash, check the labels on the mouthwashes and look for "chlorine dioxide" or "stabilized chlorine dioxide." Mouthwashes with chlorine dioxide or stabilized chlorine dioxide actually attack that sulfurous, 'rotten egg' smell that oral bacteria leaves behind and won't dry out your mouth.

Other things that support good oral health. Here are some other things you can do that will help to keep your breath fresh:

Drink lots of water to keep your mouth moist. A dry mouth contributes to bad breath. Swish some water around in your mouth after you eat or snack; this will not only keep you mouth moist it will wash away any left-over food particles that may contribute to bad breath. The rule is drink six to eight, eight ounce glasses of water every day.

Chew sugarless gum. Be sure its sugarless -- some say they are but they're not.

Suck on sugarless mints. Some mints contain ingredients that kill bacteria.

Chew on some fresh parsley.

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