Apr 052012
 


Guest post contributed by Claire, on behalf of TheInvisibleOrthodontist.com.au,  a nationwide group of dentists, specializing in dental treatments and invisible braces such as the
invisalign australia.

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Halitosis is simply the scientific term for bad breath. Although many people struggle with this problem, it can often be cured or prevented fairly easily. However, halitosis, its causes and the remedies for it are all characterized by extensive misconceptions.
 
Myth: All you need to do to prevent bad breath is brush your teeth
 
One particularly commonly accepted myth about halitosis is that a quick brush of your teeth in the morning is a sufficient safeguard against the condition. Most people brush their teeth for thirty to forty-five seconds twice a day. However, to adequately clean all surfaces of your teeth, you should brush them for at least two minutes in the morning, in the evening and after every meal. Additionally, flossing is as essential as brushing since it removes plaque and food particles from areas between your teeth that a brush cannot reach.
 
Fact: Bacteria contributes to bad breath
 
If you do not brush and floss thoroughly and regularly, bacteria will build up on the bits of food remaining on and between your teeth. This bacteria will eventually begin to release sulfur compounds, which then give you bad breath.
 
Myth: You will always be able to tell when you have bad breath
 
Breathing into your hand, breathing into a corner and then inhaling, licking your wrist and similar tricks are not accurate tests of halitosis. Breathing uses a different area of your throat than speaking. When you speak, you release air (and therefore odors) from the back of your mouth, where bad breath originates. If you can see small yellow or white specks on your tongue, or if you consistently have a bad taste in your mouth, you may have halitosis.
 
Fact: Eating certain foods contributes to bad breath
 
If you are prone to halitosis, avoid eating foods like garlic and onions that contain high levels of strong-scented oils. These oils can travel through your bloodstream, to your lungs and out through your mouth, resulting in bad breath. Smoking regularly is another potential cause of bad breath.
 
Myth: Mouthwash will make preexisting bad breath go away permanently
 
Although mouthwashes and breath mints may be able to mask a preexisting breath problem for a short period of time, they will not permanently solve it. Some alcohol-based mouthwashes can actually worsen your condition, because they dry out your mouth and increase volatilization of bad odors.
 
Fact: A variety of healthy dental habits together will help minimize your risk for bad breath
 
Flossing and brushing your teeth regularly and avoiding foods with a high pungent oil content are the most effective ways to prevent a halitosis problem from beginning. But if you discover that you already have bad breath, one of the following tips may help correct the issue.
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  • First, begin regularly chewing a sugarless gum to stimulate your saliva flow. Saliva contains antibiotics that can decrease the levels of halitosis-causing bacteria in your mouth; it is the body’s natural mouthwash. For the same reason, make sure that you drink at least eight cups of water per day. This will help you stay sufficiently hydrated to produce saliva normally; it will also help rinse food particles from behind and between your teeth.
  • Second, try using an antiseptic, plaque-reducing mouthwash. Although it will not cure preexisting halitosis, a quality mouthwash can help prevent it or stop it in its beginning stages. You may also want to try brushing your teeth with baking soda, or using toothpaste that contains baking soda. Remember to check that every dental product you buy has a seal of approval from the American Dental Association (ADA). If it does not, consult with your dentist before using it to try to treat halitosis.
  • Third, eat plenty of natural, high-fiber snacks, like carrots, celery, oranges or apples to help prevent the formation of plaque. Daily exercise is also important; it will help keep your body more healthy, which will strengthen your immune system and improve your ability to produce saliva and fight bacteria.
  • Fourth, increase your intake of foods rich in vitamin C. This is particularly important for smokers, since the nicotine in cigarettes destroys vitamin C. It also weakens your lungs and damages your salivary glands, both of which (among other issues) can contribute strongly to your halitosis problem.
  •  Fifth, carry with you a portable, battery-operated electronic flosser or oral irrigator. Use it before business meetings, interviews, dates and similar events to thoroughly remove plaque from between your teeth. It is small enough to be carried in a briefcase, purse or suitcase, and is one of the most effective last-minute strategies to prevent or cure bad breath.
  • Sixth, try rinsing your mouth with a solution of 50 percent water and 50 percent hydrogen peroxide. Swish a tablespoon of this solution back and forth in your mouth for at least one minute. This method is designed to release free oxygen, which can kill many of the bacteria that can cause halitosis.
  •  Seventh, talk to your dentist about the possibility of mixing an anti-odor substance like cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), zinc chloride or chlorhexidine into your ordinary over-the-counter mouthwash. Some researchers have suggested that zinc salts combined with ionone, which is an ingredient in tomato juice, can help fight off both plaque and halitosis. Although the effectiveness of these treatments has not yet been unquestionably proven by impartial scientific testing, some have reported success with their use. Of course, you should never attempt these types of alternative treatments without prior approval from your dentist.

If none of these methods successfully treat your halitosis, consult with your dentist. In some cases, the condition can actually be a symptom of a more complex underlying problem, such as sinusitis or gum disease. Your dentist will be able to determine the exact cause of your bad breath and prescribe an effective treatment plan for it.

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