Bad breath (or halitosis) can affect as many as one in every four people on a regular basis. There are a number of culprits that can cause bad breath such as prescribed medication, smoking, alcohol or the menopause.
Bad breath is caused by bacteria in the mouth, however, some people have a higher level of it than others making them more prone to halitosis. These organisms are not viruses or hostile germs, nor are they infectious, but they do produce nasty smelling sulphur which is the root cause of breath odour.
But you don't need to suffer anymore. Here are six top tips from founder of The Breath Co, Dr Harold Katz:
- Brush and floss regularly, but avoid harsh soap in toothpaste
Brushing helps eradicate the plaque and bacteria on your teeth, however some toothpastes contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), a soapy detergent that creates foam but has no cleaning benefit. The additive has recently been linked to serious side effects including canker sores. Flossing is an extra step, but it’s an important one, as it helps gets in between the teeth where toothbrushes sometimes miss.
- Smoking is bad for you, and for your breath!
Smoking quickly dries out the mouth and introduces nicotine and tar, which contributes to making an even more complex unpleasant odour. If you are a smoker, then bad breath is going to be a certainty. If you are a smoker, using The Breath Co Fresh Breath Toothpaste and Oral Rinse works well to keep you smelling like a non-smoker until you decide to quit. This product fights the bad bacteria in the mouth that causes bad breath, rather than just masking the smell.
- Use mouthwash
Using a mouthwash is a good way to help with tooth decay and gum disease. However, it is recommended not to use a mouthwash straight after brushing, but instead choose a different time to do it. Strong mouthwashes that contain alcohol are not good for you. In fact, research published in The Australian Dental Journal has shown a potential link between alcohol-based mouthwash and oral cancer.
There is as much alcohol in a capful of typical mouthwash as there is in a shot of vodka which can irritate the inside of your mouth. Plus alcohol will dry your mouth, which is one of the causes of bad breath.
- Tip top tongues
Those with deep grooves or fissures tend to have bad breath as fissures provide an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply.
A tongue scraper is NOT recommended for those that have hairy tongues (a condition referring to tongue fibres that are slightly longer than the norm), as scraping them can lead to irritation and injury for people with this condition. Tongue scraping by itself is not particularly effective, and excessive or overly aggressive scraping can also result in injury.
For a clean tongue use a tongue scraper or toothbrush and gently apply some toothpaste to the tongue’s surface. This will help remove waste and odor from the bacteria that live deep in the tongue’s papillae or fibres while soothing tongue irritation.
- Water, water everywhere
We have all been told that water is good for us, but did you know that it can help combat bad breath too? A glass of water can be a quick fix for a dry mouth. While not as good as your saliva, water is still a great way to keep oral tissues moist. If you have to speak a lot, then it is advised to keep a glass of water close by, and take regular sips so that your mouth does not dry out.
- You are what you eat
...Or rather your breath is. When food sits in the wrong environment for too long, it starts to spoil. This same process happens to the small pieces left in the mouth after you eat, only much more quickly.
Bacteria love proteins and most foods are packed with the proteins that bad-breath-related bacteria will rapidly convert to a smelly waste. That is why bad breath can occur no matter what you eat. There are obviously some foods that have a tendency to cause bad breath more than others.
Avoid foods like onions, garlic and curry, if you are worried about your breath. Acidic foods and beverages like tomatoes, pineapple, citrus and coffee contain high levels of acids which cause bacteria to reproduce more rapidly.
If you are a fan of breath mints, ensure firstly that they are sugar-free, as sugars feed the bad bacteria in the mouth. Also, hard lozenges that you can suck on will stimulate the production of saliva, which will help freshen your breath and fight germs.
Sweets and chocolate are a no-no. Sugars are efficient fuel for all types of bacteria ranging from bad-breath-related bacteria to the germs that are responsible for plaque, gum disease and tooth staining. Sugars also encourage tooth decay which feeds bacteria further and exacerbates bad breath. Instead look for the sweetener xylitol which can be found in some chewing gums, has been shown to have anti-cavity properties, it is a non-sucrose sweetener and tastes great.
Natural antimicrobials work great to keep your mouth fresh and germs in check. Look for ingredients like liquorice root extract and clove. However, chewing on parsley after eating strong smelling foods is actually an old wives' tale. You could just keep a couple of individually wrapped The Breath Co Mouth Wetting Dry Mouth Lozenges in your handbag and pop one in your mouth after a meal.
For more health advice, pick up the latest copy of Yours