Improving Bad Breath with Dental Hygiene

As we finish out National Dental Hygiene Month for October, we want to draw attention to a topic that matters to all of us: bad breath.  More than ninety percent of bad breath originates in the oral cavity, and one hundred percent of it is the result of smelly gases produced by bacteria.  This is why improving bad breath falls under the umbrella of dental hygiene.

What Causes Bad Breath?

As part of their normal metabolic processes, many bacteria give off gases, and many of these gases contain bad-smelling sulfur compounds.  We then emit these stinky gas molecules when we speak, laugh, or breathe.

The more bacteria you have in your mouth, the more smelly gases they can produce.  In the oral cavity, most bacteria lives in clumps of dental plaque.  Plaque can collect on the teeth, under the gums, and in grooves on the tongue or tonsils.  Plaque contains these gas-producing bacteria, food debris, and exfoliated cells from the tissue lining the inside of the mouth.

When we do not remove plaque, the bacteria and food debris work together to give off a serious kitchen trashcan odor.

How Can a Dental Hygienist Help Me with Bad Breath?

When you see your dental hygienist for a professional teeth cleaning, one of his or her chief goals is removing all of the bacterial buildup from your teeth.  The hygienist is able to reach areas beneath the gums that you cannot.  He or she also uses specialized dental instruments to clean away hardened tartar buildup, which will not come off with just brushing or flossing.

Most people experience an immediate freshening of their breath after a professional teeth cleaning.  The hygienist also studies your current oral health state while cleaning.  He or she is able to recognize areas you may be missing during your home care routine.  This allows the hygienist to educate you and provide you with additional tools to improve your plaque removal at home.

The hygienist will also spot areas of large plaque accumulation away from teh teeth, such as the tongue or tonsils.  The large bumps and grooves at the back of the tongue are a common hiding spot for bacteria, so many people need to incorporate a tongue cleaner and a mouthwash into their oral hygiene routines.

Your hygienist will also pick up on warning signs of contributing problems like dry mouth.  Patients with dry mouth have a much higher risk for bad breath because they tend to have higher levels of plaque buildup.  Your hygienist will recommend techniques and specific products you can use to fight dry mouth.

What Effect Does Good Dental Hygiene at Home Have on Bad Breath?

Your dental hygienist can give you a great jump-start on fresh breath.  The bulk of the responsibility, however, lies with you.  Dental plaque builds up every single day.  You must commit to consistent home care with great dental hygiene in order to maintain fresh breath between your visits to the dental hygienist.

The two most important aspects of home care are what you do and how you do it.  Your regimen must include both brushing and flossing to effectively remove as much dental plaque (and its bad-breath-causing bacteria) as possible.  Many people skip flossing because they do not understand its importance, especially in its role of fighting bad breath.  You cannot overcome persistent bad breath without flossing.

How you brush and floss matters.  Many people perform very quick and ineffective brushing or flossing.  They may be checking the box for oral hygiene, but they are not accomplishing its purpose in removing dental plaque.  To learn great plaque-removing techniques for brushing and flossing, check out these instructional videos.  Also, follow any specific recommendations for technique given to you by your hygienist.

Proper brushing technique

Proper flossing technique

More Questions about Bad Breath?

Call Timberlake Dental at 940-382-1750 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning.  He can assess your situation, schedule you for a professional teeth cleaning with one of our wonderful dental hygienists, and put you on the right path to fresh breath.

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