Dental Health and Bad Breath
What Can I Do to Prevent Bad Breath?
Bad breath can be reduced or prevented if you:
- Practice good oral hygiene. Brush twice a day with fluoridetoothpaste to remove food debris and plaque. Brush teeth after you eat (keep a toothbrush at work or school to brush after lunch). Don't forget to brush the tongue, too. Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months or after an illness. Use floss or an interdental cleaner to remove food particles and plaque between teeth once a day. Dentures should be removed at night and cleaned thoroughly before being placed in your mouth the next morning.
- See your dentist regularly -- at least twice a year. He or she will conduct an oral exam and professional teeth cleaning and will be able to detect and treat periodontal disease, dry mouth, or other problems that may be the cause of bad mouth odor.
- Stop smoking and chewing tobacco-based products. Ask your dentist for tips on kicking the habit.
- Drink lots of water. This will keep your mouth moist. Chewing gum (preferably sugarless) or sucking on candy (preferably sugarless) also stimulates the production of saliva, which helps wash away food particles and bacteria. Gums and mints containing xylitol are best.
- Keep a log of the foods you eat. If you think they may be causing bad breath, bring the log to your dentist to review. Similarly, make a list of the medications you take. Some drugs may play a role in creating mouth odors.
Who Treats Bad Breath?
In most cases, your dentist can treat the cause of bad breath. If your dentist determines that your mouth is healthy and the odor is not of oral origin, you may be referred to your family doctor or to a specialist to determine the odor source and treatment plan. If the odor is due to gum disease, for example, your dentist can either treat the disease or refer you to a periodontist, a dentist who specializes in treating gum conditions.
What Products Can I Use to Eliminate Bad Breath?
You can buy a number of mouthwashes that claim to eliminate bad breath. However, many of these generally provide only a temporary way to mask unpleasant mouth odor. There are, however, several antiseptic mouth-rinse products that kill the germs that cause bad breath. Ask your dentist about which product is best for you.