Bad breath is an embarrassing condition that occurs in 25% of the world’s population. It is a persistent foul smell emanating from the mouth. Although it is a societal concern to many, bad breath is a preventable and treatable condition.
What can you do to prevent bad breath?
1. Practice good oral care habits
This involves brushing twice a day every day and flossing at least once a day. Brushing helps reduce bacterial load in the mouth, and this alone significantly reduces your chances of having bad breath.
On the other hand, flossing helps remove food particles that might be stuck between your teeth and hard to remove by regular toothbrushing
2. Clean your tongue
Many a time we brush in a hurry and forget our tongue. Brushing the tongue helps remove the build-up of bad breath causing bacteria which are usually located at the back of the tongue. This can be done with toothbrushes while brushing or with tongue scrappers. Cleaning the tongue not only prevents bad breath, it also provides some form of remedy
3. Proper care for Dentures and other dental appliances
Dentures should be removed at night and placed in water or an antiseptic solution. They should be cleaned every day. For other removable appliances, they should be cared for as directed by the Dentist.
4. Stay hydrated
Drink lots of water. This prevents a dry mouth which is a known cause of dry mouth
5. Avoid smoking and use of alcohol
These have been known to cause dry mouth and gum diseases which are major causes of dry mouth
6. Modify your diet
Avoid foods that tend to give a bad odour to the mouth. For example do not chew onion or garlic, wash your mouth after eating meat, fish or dairy products.
Eat lots of fibre and vegetables. These take a long time to chew and stimulate salivary flow, helps to clean the mouth and moisten the mouth
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What should I do if I have bad breath?
See your Dentist. Your Dentist will examine your mouth properly and formulate a proper plan for treatment, which might include the following;
Professional cleaning. This is often referred to as scaling and polishing and leaves you with a clean fresh mouth. Scaling and polishing should be done every Six months for an optimum oral health.
Treatment of other oral lesions.
This might include filling of holes in the teeth, extraction of grossly carious teeth and treatment of gum diseases.
Diagnosis of other systemic causes of bad breath and appropriate referrals for management. This might include the review of medications which cause bad breath to other alternatives.
Other palliative measures in management of Halitosis includes;
Use of mouthwashes and mouth sprays. Care should, however, be exercised with mouthwashes and sprays. Those containing alcohol should be avoided, as it causes dryness of the oral mucosa and may lead to bad breath. Oxygenating mouthwashes and toothpaste such as those containing chlorine dioxide or sodium chlorate may be helpful. They help to deactivate the bad breath-causing bacteria which are anaerobes and cannot survive in areas of high oxygen concentration.
Chewing on sugar-free gums or sucking on sugarless candies or lozenges. These are usually made with xylitol as the main ingredient and have become popular in recent times, hence they are widely available. They help to stimulate salivary flow, without the risk of decay associated with intake of sugar-containing substances.
Saliva substitutes or artificial saliva may be recommended by your Dentist to moisten your mouth and help if you have dry mouth.
What is the outcome of treatment of Bad breath?
It is usually excellent as it is totally curable and hardly life threatening!
So when next you see someone with bad breath or if you have bad breath yourself, just take a deep breath and relax, because help is just around the corner
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