News, Views and Advice

Freshen up 28-11-2016

With the Christmas party season well under way, many of us are keen to look, and feel our best. Perhaps you’re dusting off your favourite shoes, or shopping for something with a bit of extra sparkle. As well as looking great, you’ll want to feel fabulous too. Boost your confidence this Christmas by making sure you’ve got super-fresh breath as you hit those parties.

Many of us suffer from bad breath at one point or another, and there can be many reasons for this. Our mouths are homes to thousands of bacteria, which live on our tongues, at the back of our throats, and on our tonsils. Bacteria eat and secrete their waste like other organisms. The waste matter produced contains a cocktail of chemical compounds: it doesn’t smell too good! These smells are carried on our breath, making it potentially rather unpleasant.

Our tongues have individual characteristics which make us more or less likely to suffer from bad breath, and which influence the extent of the problem. For example, if you have a particularly rough tongue, there are more nooks and crannies in which bacteria can hide. In addition, bacteria love to live in the fibres on the top surface of the tongue. Some people naturally have more fibres on top of their tongues than others.

As well as bacteria lurking in our tongues, the Oral Health Foundation describe other potential causes of bad breath. Food particles can get trapped in between our teeth and gums and then can rot, further adding to unpleasant smells. In addition, medical conditions such as ‘dry mouth’ (Xerostamia) can have an effect. This condition means that less saliva is produced. With less saliva present, bacteria has less chance of being washed away, tending instead to linger in our mouths. Dry mouth can have several causes: medication, salivary gland problems, or breathing continuously through your mouth instead of your nose. As we get older, we also naturally produce less saliva.

There are many reasons why we might suffer from bad breath, and to combat this problem we need to consider the whole mouth. Here are a few tips to help you on your way to freshening up:

  • Regularly visit your dentist for check-ups (and tell your dentist if your suffer from bad breath)
  • Record what you eat, drink, and medications you take: this information will help your discussions with your dentist
  • Brush your teeth twice a day and use interdental brushes or floss at least once a day to clean between your teeth
  • Avoid strongly flavoured foods (these may enhance the problem)
  • Consider an anti-bacterial mouthwash to kill off excess bacteria

Make sure you feel your best this festive season: following our tips for fresher breath should help to give you a starting point for overcoming bad breath. More information can be found on the Oral Health Foundation pages.

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