By: Kyle Blair, DDS
The holidays are here. You may have been naughty with your brushing and flossing this year, but ‘tis the season for good oral hygiene.
Why, you ask? What if you are a few months (or years) overdue for a cleaning when you step under the mistletoe? Or what if you take a bite of some delicious onion dip on New Year’s Eve right before that midnight kiss?
This holiday season, here’s some advice to help make sure your breath is nice.
Right now, you’re probably thinking, “My breath isn’t that bad.” You might be right, but your breath often smells worse to those around you than it does to you. It’s worth asking, “Do I ever have bad breath?” to someone who will give you a straight answer. If they say, “Yes,” or hand you a Tic-Tac, here are 5 things you can do to make sure you are taking care of your breath.
Avoid offensive foods
You can probably come up with this list off the top of your head, but here are a few of the most common foods that cause bad breath…
• Dairy Products
• Canned Tuna
You don’t have to avoid them altogether, but you should know which foods have the potential to make your breath stink.
Go ahead, get onions on your burger or have that cup of coffee but keep a set of oral hygiene supplies in your desk, purse or glove compartment to get rid of the smell. Also, drinking plenty of water which increases saliva production will dilute offensive odors so they pack less of a punch.
Brush your tongue and rinse your mouth
When using those oral hygiene supplies you stashed in your desk, make sure to brush your tongue.
There are grooves on your tongue, particularly toward the back, where food particles and bacteria reside that contribute to bad breath.
With a tooth brush or tongue scraper clean the grooves on your tongue as far back as you can without gagging.
In a pinch you can even use your upper front teeth as a tongue scraper.
Next, swish with an alcohol-free antibacterial mouth rinse and gargle in the back of your throat to get to the bacteria your toothbrush can’t reach.
Food and bacteria rest in tissue folds in your throat and are a major source of bad breath.
Visit your dentist and dental hygienist
If you avoid breath-busting foods and have excellent oral hygiene but are still dealing with bad breath then you might have gum disease also known as Periodontitis.
This is a chronic bacterial infection of your gums that, if left untreated, will cause bad breath, loose teeth and premature tooth loss.
It is also correlated with serious health issues like diabetes and heart disease.
Regular cleanings with a dental hygienist can prevent all of this. Your hygienist is your gum tissue’s best friend.
There are many reasons to stop smoking and bad breath is one of them.
Speak to your physician or dentist if you would like help quitting.
Some dentists are trained to facilitate nicotine-replacement therapy through medications, gums, lozenges, etc.
1-800-QUIT-NOW is another excellent resource.
A little tidbit of encouragement: The day you smoke your last cigarette, you are half as likely to develop oral cancer.
It’s worth it and dentists can help.
See your physician
Your food is fantastic, your tongue is tidy, your gums are great, you stopped smoking but your breath is still bad.
It’s time to visit your physician.
There could be a medical reason for your bad breath, such as diabetes, acid reflux, stomach cancer, etc.
Everyone should have regular checkups with a physician and bad breath that won’t go away is worth an extra visit. It just might save your life.
Follow these simple steps and you can stand under that mistletoe with confidence this holiday season.