Did you know....?
FACT - About 75% of dentists regularly treat patients for halitosis.
FACT - About 55% of people suffer from occasional bad halitosis.
FACT - About 25-35% of people suffer from chronic halitosis.
In this section, we are going to discuss ways to eliminate bad halitosis and later I'll show you how to test for bad breath. Yes that's right. You can now easily test your own breath with the use of an inexpensive electronic gadget, the size of a mobile phone!
By far the major source of bad breath is the top surface of the tongue.
However before we discuss how to clean the tongue effectively, I am going to say one more thing - and this is not negotiable.
If you are serious about having fresh breath, you MUST first of all have:
Healthy teeth - no cavities, fillings, crowns etc trapping plaque, food and those VSC-producing bacteria.
Healthy gums - again, no areas where plaque etc. can become trapped.
Excellent oral hygiene. It is no use visiting your dentist to have your teeth and gums checked and treated, if you do not maintain a healthy mouth that will not encourage bad breath.
Cleaning The Tongue
There are 2 ways to clean the surface of the tongue.
1) Toothbrush (The wrong Way) - you may damage the tongue.
2) Tongue Scrapers.
Tongue scrapers come in various shapes and sizes.
You should place your cleaning device flush against your tongue and use slow, long strokes to remove the white coating from the back to the front. At first, it might be difficult to clean the back because you might want to gag. However, you will get used to it after a while. You should also clean from side to side. Be careful to not press down too hard because you might damage your tongue.
If you really want to be super-effective, use the tongue scraper twice a day.
Having a dry mouth is bad news for halitosis sufferers. Dry mouth can be caused by a number of things:
a) Certain prescription medicines (blood pressure & depression)
b) Certain over-the-counter medicines (antihistamines)
c) Age (as we age our saliva production decreases)
d) Other (radiation therapy, Sjögren's Syndrome)
Saliva not only helps to mechanically keep our mouths clean, it also contains oxygen which helps keep anaerobic bacteria in check.
So, less saliva = more anaerobic bacteria = more bad breath.
If you log onto bad breath forums, you will usually find several posts about tonsil stones or tonsiloliths.
These are seen as smallish white/yellow "stones", lying on the tonsils. If you manage to dislodge one and squeeze it between your fingers, you will be amazed at how such a small thing could smell so bad.
Larger tonsilloliths may result in halitosis.
There are, of course, many brands of tooth paste on the market. Many of these will contain a substance called "Sodium Lauryl Sulphate", (SLS) which is used as a foaming agent.
It has no real benefit to the users (you and me) but it gives the impression of providing extra cleaning. Research has shown that SLS can cause Aphthous ulcers (Canker Sores). Also if you use a tooth paste containing SLS and gargle with a mouth wash containing cetylpyridinium chloride, the SLS will neutralize the mouth wash. You therefore need to leave the mouth wash for 1 hour after brushing.
SLS will dry your mouth and increase the risk of bad breath!
At this point, you will probably want to visit your bathroom cabinet and check the ingredients in your toothpaste and mouth wash.
So far we have seen that
- 90% of bad breath comes from the mouth
- Most of that 90% comes from the surface of the tongue
- VSC-producing anaerobic bacteria are responsible for bad breath
- Healthy teeth and gums are an essential starting point in treating or preventing bad breath
- Tongue cleaning is absolutely essential to avoid bad breath
- Dry mouth is to be avoided at all costs
- Do not use an alcohol based mouth washes
- Do not use a tooth past containing Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)
Since dry mouth can increase bacterial buildup and cause or worsen bad breath, chewing sugarless gum can help with the production of saliva, and thereby help to reduce bad breath.
Chewing may help particularly when the mouth is dry, or when you cannot perform oral hygiene procedures after meals (especially those meals rich in protein).
This aids in provision of saliva, which washes away oral bacteria, has antibacterial properties and promotes mechanical activity which helps cleanse the mouth.
About 25% of the patients seeking professional advice on bad breath suffer from a highly exaggerated concern of having bad breath, known as halitophobia.
These patients are sure that they have bad breath, although many have not asked anyone for an objective opinion. Halitophobia may severely affect the lives of 1.0% of the adult population.
Unfortunately, few psychologists and health professionals have tried to come to terms with this debilitating and difficult-to-treat emotional problem.
So, What Should You Actually Do To Stop Bad Breath ?
1. Visit your dentist.
Have your teeth and gums checked. Have x rays taken (bitewings). Ask your dentist to check for tonsil stones. Visit the hygienist. Have her show you how to brush & floss correctly.
2. Check the contents of your bathroom cupboard.
Make sure your tooth paste does not contain SLS. Make sure your mouth wash does not contain alcohol.
3. Start a new daily regime
Clean your tongue thoroughly - using a tongue scraper, twice daily.
4. Monitor your diet
Keep an eye on those foods we talked about earlier:-Fish Cheese Meat i.e. high protein foods It goes without saying, the list includes onions and garlic. Moderate your alcohol intake. Remember a dry mouth is bad news.
5. Stop Smoking
It's very easy for non-smokers to say "stop smoking". If it were that simple, nobody would fail trying to give up cigarettes.