Halitosis causes an offensive smell that can mean people avoid being around you!
A few years ago, an article came out in a dental magazine which investigated the smells that people in the UK found to be the most offensive.
Whilst halitosis, or bad breath, only gained a ‘bronze medal’ in third place, the degree to which people actually found it to be a really offensive smell can probably be indicated from the gold and silver winners which were, in order of ‘merit’, babies nappies (with added poo) and sewers on a hot day.
Given the ‘stench factor’ of these two, it should leave us in no doubt how bad halitosis really is.
There can be many causes of bad breath, with some being temporary and, whilst stinky, completely harmless. A good example of this is the classic ‘garlic breath’. This might smell but is entirely harmless and will vanish in time if you don’t eat any more of it. Not all bad breath is like this though and, if persistent, it may well indicate that you have an oral health problem.
Persistent bad breath
If you have been told that your breath smells, probably by a close friend, or you notice that people are taking a step or two backwards as you speak to them, it is probably time to have this investigated. We know that bad breath can make you feel embarrassed about seeing a dentist, but you shouldn’t be and we can assure you that our Canterbury dental team is used to helping patients tackle smelly breath by treating any underlying issues.
There are a number of possible causes of halitosis that we see at Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic. Not all of these necessarily require treatment. Occasionally, for example, we find that a piece of food has become trapped it is this that is causing the odor. This is easily removed and that may be all that is needed.
Far more common in cases of persistent bad breath caused by poor oral care is gum disease. Whilst there are other symptoms of gum disease, bad breath may be the one that you might feel most reluctant about getting checked. Please don’t be; if your breath smells on a regular basis, please make an appointment to see us.
There are two key stages of gum disease; gingivitis and periodontitis, with the latter posing a significant threat to your teeth. Both stages have bad breath as potential symptoms so you need to have this checked as soon as possible. Ignoring it could even lead to you eventually losing some teeth.
Gum disease is predominantly caused by poor oral health care. A recent study found that around a third of us don’t brush our teeth twice a day, with 2% actually not brushing at all. Even though you might brush your teeth at night but not morning, thinking that you haven’t eaten since you went to bed, this is a big mistake as bacteria still form in the mouth overnight and become attached to the teeth and gum line. This is even more likely if you are a smoker, have been drinking alcohol or generally suffer from a dry mouth. If you do suffer from a dry mouth, gum and general oral health issues are more likely.
Prevention and restoration
Bad breath need not be permanent if you do the right things. This doesn’t mean eating mints or breath fresheners to ‘sweeten’ the mouth. This might work as a temporary measure but it doesn’t address the underlying causes. The first thing you should do is to ensure that you establish a good brushing routine, both morning and last thing at night. Use a brush that is less than 3 months old along with a fluoride toothpaste. Brush gently in a circular motion for two minutes and angle the bristles so that they reach under the gum line where bacteria is easily trapped.
One of the main things that many of us neglect to do is to use dental floss to clean between our teeth. Not only will this help to remove particles of food that have become trapped, but also remove bacteria too. Flossing is actually quite easy to do with a little practice. There are many reputable instructional videos online and our resident hygienist is always happy to demonstrate how you should do this. Finally, you should see the hygienist at our Canterbury dental clinic on a regular basis to have your teeth thoroughly cleaned. For most people, this should be every six months, but for those at a higher risk, such as diabetics, we may recommend three monthly visits so that we can keep on top of any problems that arise and help to keep your mouth healthy.
Other things can also help. Avoid a diet that is high in sugar as this will feed ‘bad’ oral bacteria and enable them to multiply more easily. Also, drink plenty of water as this will wash away food particles and bacteria, help to keep you hydrated and less likely to suffer from a dry mouth.
Preventative dental care is essential and will not only help to keep your teeth and gums healthy but to leave you with fresher breath too. Routine appointments at Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic can be made by calling our reception team on 01227 463529.