Call it the ultimate conversation killer at any Christmas party in Sydney. You lean closer to a colleague or acquaintance to start a chat, only to have them take a few discreet steps back, rush away to refill their drink or remember an urgent email that needs to be sent right then and there.
The reason for their reaction may not be your lack of brilliant conversation skills but, rather, the unpleasant odour on your breath.
Bad breath is more common than most Sydneysiders realise. Studies show that between one in five and one in four people suffer from bad breath, or halitosis, to some degree. Most people have an unpleasant smell on their breath when waking up in the morning, but if the bad odour persists throughout the day, it can cause distress and social anxiety.
The most common causes of halitosis are certain foods, smoking, poor dental hygiene, bad gastrointestinal health, dry mouth, mouth infections and certain medications. All of the above increase smell-causing bacteria between your teeth, around the gums and on the tongue.
Fortunately, many cases of bad breath can be cured with dietary changes, good oral hygiene and some help from your trusted North Sydney dentist.
Bad Breath Foods
The food you eat affects the way your breath smells. Onion and garlic are the most well known bad-breath culprits, but there are others. Eating meat often leaves bits of food stuck in your mouth that help breed bacteria. Those on very high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets are especially at risk for halitosis.
Milk and cheese are notorious for breaking down to produce a smell hours after being eaten. As for drinks, coffee, sodas and alcohol dry out your mouth, which means there is less saliva to rinse away the smell-causing bacteria.
Foods to Keep your Breath Fresh
A balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, vegetables and fruit is integral to avoiding halitosis. However, there are also foods that offer a quick fix for bad breath. Chewing fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, rosemary, coriander, spearmint and cardamom, as well as munching fennel seeds and on a cinnamon stick really help clear that after-meal or post-coffee stench.
Apples, carrots and other foods packed with fibre are good allies in the fight against halitosis as they increase saliva production and keep your mouth rinsed out. Berries, citrus fruits and other foods rich in Vitamin C help fight off bacteria and prevent gum disease and gingivitis, common bad-breath culprits. Water and green tea are best drinks for avoiding oral malodour.
Floss, Brush and Scrape the Stench Away
Establish a good oral hygiene routine. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day to remove food particles trapped in your mouth. I have compiled some easy instructions for maintaining good oral hygiene.
Get a tongue cleaner and scrape the surface of the tongue to remove dead cells, food debris, bacteria and by-products of bacterial digestion. Using your toothbrush or an inverted spoon also works.
Gargle with plain water after eating. This will help wash away food particles and balance your mouth’s pH levels.
Chew sugarless gum to increase your saliva production, which helps cleanse your mouth of stink-causing bacteria.
Use mouthwash. Use alcohol-free mouth rinse because alcohol can dry your mouth and increase the formation of odour-producing bacteria.
Last but not Least: Visit Your Dentist
Removing built-up plaque and tartar requires a trip to the dentist. A professional cleaning twice a year is sufficient for most people, but for those who experience tartar build-up more quickly, four times a year may be necessary.
During your appointment at our boutique dental clinic in North Sydney, your tongue will be cleaned with a tongue scraper to remove dead cells, food debris and odour-causing bacteria. The build-up of plaque and tartar will be carefully removed from your teeth and below the gum line.
We will also discuss ways to maintain good oral health and ensure your breath is as fresh as it can possibly be.
To start 2014 with a fresh breath, call our friendly staff at (02) 9922 1159 and schedule an appointment with Dr Luke Cronin. Merry Christmas!