During a dental examination, the dentist typically evaluates the smell of both mouth and nose breath, assigning it a rating on a scale. They may also scrape the back of the tongue, as it is commonly the origin of the odor. While sophisticated detectors capable of identifying the chemicals responsible for bad breath exist, their availability may be limited.
To maintain fresh breath, prevent cavities, and reduce the risk of gum disease, it is essential to consistently follow good oral hygiene practices. Additional treatment for bad breath will depend on its underlying cause. If the bad breath is suspected to stem from an underlying health issue, your dentist may refer you to a primary care provider. For causes related to oral health, your dentist will collaborate with you to improve the management of the condition. Dental measures may include:
- Mouth wash and toothpastes: If the cause of your bad breath is bacterial buildup (plaque) on your teeth, your dentist may suggest using a mouth rinse specifically designed to eliminate these bacteria. Additionally, they might recommend a toothpaste containing an antibacterial agent that effectively targets the bacteria responsible for plaque formation.
- Treatment of dental disease: In the case of gum disease, your dentist might refer you to a periodontist, a specialist in gum health. Gum disease can lead to the separation of gums from your teeth, creating deep pockets that become filled with bacteria responsible for causing unpleasant odors. Often, only professional cleaning can effectively remove these bacteria. Furthermore, your dentist may suggest replacing faulty tooth restorations, as they can become breeding grounds for harmful bacteria.
- Lifestyle and self-care: To reduce or prevent bad breath, consider the following:
- Brushing teeth after eating: Keeping a toothbrush at work to use after eating and brushing with a fluoride-containing toothpaste at least twice a day, particularly after meals, are effective home remedies to reduce or prevent bad breath. Additionally, using toothpaste with antibacterial properties has been shown to help minimize bad breath odors.
- Flossing once a day: Correct and regular flossing is essential in removing food particles and plaque from between the teeth, effectively aiding in the control of bad breath.
- Brushing the tongue: Bacteria can accumulate on your tongue, contributing to bad breath. Therefore, conscientiously brushing your tongue can help reduce odors. If you have a coated tongue, which occurs due to a substantial overgrowth of bacteria (possibly from smoking or experiencing dry mouth), using a tongue scraper could be beneficial. Alternatively, you may opt for a toothbrush with a built-in tongue cleaner to maintain tongue hygiene effectively.
- Cleaning the dentures: If you use a bridge or denture, it’s essential to clean it thoroughly at least once a day or as per your dentist’s instructions. Similarly, if you have a dental retainer or mouth guard, make sure to clean it each time before inserting it into your mouth. For the most suitable cleaning product, consult your dentist, as they can recommend the best option for your specific needs.
- Avoiding dry mouth: To maintain moisture in the mouth, it is advisable to steer clear of tobacco and instead, ensure an ample intake of water, avoiding coffee, soft drinks, and alcohol, which can contribute to dryness. To encourage saliva production, individuals can chew gum or suck on sugarless candy. In cases of persistent dry mouth, a dentist or physician may prescribe an artificial saliva preparation or an oral medication that stimulates saliva flow.
- Adjusting the diet: To minimize bad breath, it is advisable to avoid consuming foods like onions and garlic, which can contribute to foul breath. Additionally, reducing the intake of sugary foods is recommended, as they are also associated with causing bad breath.
- Regularly getting a new toothbrush: It is essential to replace one’s toothbrush every three to four months or when the bristles become frayed. For effective cleaning, it is advisable to choose a toothbrush with soft bristles.
- Regular dental checkups: Regular dental check-ups are crucial for maintaining good oral health. It is recommended to visit the dentist twice a year, in most cases, for examinations and cleanings of your teeth or dentures. This routine helps prevent potential dental issues and ensures early detection and treatment of any existing problems.