Fresh Breath and Good Oral Hygiene

No one wants to have bad breath. And yet we’ve all at times been embarrassed by our own
breath, or concerned about a friend’s bad breath. It’s reassuring to know that in most cases you
can control bad breath by following a simple, routine program of good oral hygiene. And it only
takes a few minutes each day.

1. What Causes Bad Breath?
Bad breath (halitosis) is caused by a number of factors. One of the most common is food particles
lodged between the teeth. Other causes of bad breath are the direct result of poor oral hygiene:
decayed teeth, gum disease, or improperly cleaned dentures. Sometimes bad breath is caused by
offending food or drink - onions, garlic, salami, liquor and coffee for example. Tobacco (either
chewed or inhaled) is also a significant cause of bad breath.

While commercial advertizing would have us believe that mints, mouthrinses and breath sprays are
a cure-all for bad breath, these products only act to temporarily mask the symptoms. Good oral
hygiene - practiced faithfully at home - is the number one defense against bad breath!

2. Plaque Facts
Dental plaque is the primary culprit in causing bad breath. It’s a colorless film of bacteria that
forms on teeth. If not removed manually with a toothbrush and floss every day, plaque mixes with
sugars and starches in the diet to form halitosis producing acids and other byproducts. If allowed
to remain on the teeth, plaque irritates the gums and eventually hardens to form calculus (tartar).
Once hardened, calculus can only be removed by a dentist or hygienist using special instruments.

Plaque is also the number one cause of tooth decay and gum disease. Here’s what you can do to
remove plaque at home and effectively eliminate bad breath.

3. Flossing Removes Plaque And Food Particles.
Dental floss removes food particles and plaque from between the teeth and under the gumline.
That’s where most bad breath starts! If you’ve not flossed before, be patient. It’s a skill that
requires practice and patience. Here’s what to do:

Use a piece of dental floss approximately 18” long. Wind each end of the floss around your
middle fingers. Holding the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers, leave about an inch
of floss. Use a gentle back and forth motion to guide the floss between your teeth. Note: Avoid
“snapping” the floss. It causes unnecessary irritation to the gums, and may even loosen fillings or
crowns. When the floss is at the gumline, curve it into an arc around each tooth until there is mild
resistance. You’ll know when to stop! Holding the floss in the arc design, gently slide the floss up
the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum. Repeat this procedure with each tooth,
and don’t forget the back side of the last tooth in each jaw.


4. Give Plaque The Brush!
Choose a toothbrush with soft, nylon bristles; the tips of the bristles should be smooth and
rounded. (A stiff brush can wear away enamel and may irritate your gums.) We will be happy to
recommend a specific brush to best meet your dental needs. Here’s what to do:

Place the head of the toothbrush next to your teeth, with the bristle tips at a 45 degree angle next
to the gumline. Move the brush back and forth in a small circular scrubbing motion, about one
half of a tooth width. Brush the outer surfaces of the teeth, upper and lower. Make sure you keep
the bristles angled against your gumline. Now brush the inside tooth surfaces, using the same
brush strokes. To reach the inside surfaces of your front teeth, tilt your brush vertically and use
gentle up and down strokes with the head of the brush. Scrub the chewing surfaces of all the
back teeth.

There are many electric brushes on the market which, when properly used, do a superior job of
cleaning teeth. They can be especially useful for patients dealing with periodontal (gum) disease,
adults and children with braces, and for those who have difficulty using a manual brush. Ask us
for recommendations.

5. Don’t Forget Your Tongue!
The tongue is a major source of halitosis. It’s rough surface traps a large amount of food and
harbors a great quantity of bacteria. Be sure to brush your tongue with your toothbrush. Be gentle
so you don’t injure the taste buds! There are many tongue scrapping tools on the market which
also do a great job of removing plaque and bacteria from the tongue surface. Ask us for
suggestions.