How Dental Cleanings Can Address Bad Breath

If you sense that your breath smells bad, either from the reaction of others or testing it yourself, our dental office is one of your best resources about how to prevent and cure this problem (aka halitosis), depending on the cause.

The odor is generally caused by bacteria, which can flourish if you do not brush your teeth for two minutes after breakfast and dinner, then floss before bedtime. If food and beverage particles are not thoroughly removed, the bacteria turns them into a sticky film called plaque, which spreads and then can harden into tartar, which can only be removed by a dental hygienist with special tools. Many of us did not grow up learning the most effective brushing and flossing techniques, so ask her to show you when you come in for the recommended twice-yearly professional cleanings.

Your hygienist may need 30-60 minutes to probe whether the gums have infected pockets and then clean them, along with removing the plaque or tartar from the teeth. She may need to use an antibacterial solution to beat back the bad bacteria and recommend coming in for your next cleaning in a few months to check your progress in brushing and flossing. She may suggest keeping a toothbrush at work to use after lunch, using a dentist-grade mouthwash, adding a small bristled brush to your routine, or using a water pick, whose force can push out particles stuck in small spaces.

If you wear dentures, a bridge, retainer, or mouthguard at night, clean it at least once a day to see if this reduces the smell (we can recommend a cleaning product).

According to the Mayo Clinic, brushing your tongue often helps, especially the back where bacteria may flourish and produce volatile sulfur compounds that stink. The tongue will often appear coated white, especially in the morning. A tongue scraper might also be needed to thoroughly remove the offenders. You should also change your toothbrush every few months and use antibacterial covers to keep it as fresh as possible.

A dry mouth can cause bad breath aka halitosis. You should try drinking more water and avoid soft drinks, coffee, and alcohol, which have a drying effect. It is also important to schedule regular dental exams. Chewing sugarless gum or sucking on candy can stimulate saliva, but if none of these things improve your natural mouth moisture, talk to your physician about an artificial saliva preparation or a medication that can stimulate saliva.