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Heading off halitosis

Do you have a personal problem that no one’s telling you about? Bad breath – or halitosis – affects most of us at some time. And chances are that if you are affected by this smelly affliction, loved ones and acquaintances won’t want to tell you for fear of embarrassing you ...

There’s no DIY bad breath test either – you can’t self diagnose bad breath by cupping your hands, blowing on them and breathing it all in. That’s because although the smell receptors in your nose are great at identifying new smells, they can’t detect persistent odours. If you really want to know if your breath is as fresh as it could be, ask someone you’re close to. Ready to get to the bottom of the problem? Then read on!

What causes bad breath?

Bacterial build up, gum disease and bits of trapped food (which provide food for the bacteria that live in your mouth and allow them to thrive) can contribute to bad breath. Your mouth dwelling bacteria produce smelly gases – called volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs). So, keeping your teeth and gums clean, regular professional cleaning and treatment for gum disease can make a huge difference to your fresh breath confidence.

What to avoid!

  1. Smelly foods – garlic, onions, ginger and strong curry spices can linger in the mouth before they disappear.
  2. Cigarettes – the noxious gases can lurk inside your mouth, contributing to bad breath.
  3. Alcohol – the smell of the alcohol imparts a unique odour. Drinking too much alcohol can also cause dehydration, which allows bacteria to thrive.
  4. Low carbohydrate diets – when your body uses fat for energy instead of carbohydrates, the result can be a strong and unusual smell.

Some medications and certain health conditions can also cause bad breath. Talk to your GP to find out more.

What you can do

  1. Brush thoroughly but gently on every tooth surface for at least two minutes, twice a day (wait for at least half an hour after eating acidic foods or drinking citrus drinks, wine and fizzy drinks or you could literally brush softened enamel away).
  2. Clean your tongue. Bacteria live in the grooves of your tongue so use your brush or a special tongue brush to clean it and the insides of your cheeks, too.
  3. Use dental floss after eating to remove bits of food that remain in your mouth. The bacteria will then have less food to feed on.
  4. Drink plenty of water and fluids to fight dry mouth.
  5. Chew sugar-free gum after eating – it stimulates the release of mouth-cleansing saliva.

Ask your dentist

Seeing your dentist regularly is vital if you’re after fresh breath confidence. During a professional clean, your dentist will pay special attention to areas where food can get caught and where plaque or tartar has built up. All of the areas that you find difficult to reach on your own can be cleaned thoroughly during your visit. Your dentist can also give you a tip or two about the best way to clean your teeth and gums and show you any areas that you might be missing. You may even be prescribed special products such as an antibacterial mouthwash and/or special interdental brushes to help remove any food stuck between your teeth.

If bad breath persists, it may be a sign of another problem – a sinus, tonsil or adenoid problem for example. So, go along and see your GP.

rt healthy teeth is located at 1 Buckingham Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010. Call 1300 991 044 to make an appointment or visit rthealthcentre.com.au for more information.

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