We’ve all been there — discretely breathing into our hand to check our breath before an important face-to-face meeting. Coffee, that delicious chili you had for lunch or maybe this morning’s breakfast sandwich are easy to blame, but bad breath can actually be caused by a variety of factors. And while Halitosis — the scientific name for bad breath — is super common, it turns out we may be addressing this embarrassing conundrum all wrong, so dentist Dr. Natalie Archer stopped by The Goods to share some quick facts on bad breath and the simple steps to fight it.
Brushing and flossing regularly is your best defence against bad breath.
As you can probably guess, brushing and flossing is the primary method of combating bad breath and keeping your mouth clean. And there’s a reason your dentist keeps telling you to floss regularly — it’s one of the best ways to remove food particles in between the teeth. If food is left there, bacteria will break down the particles creating a sulfur-like compound that gives off a fermented, bad-breath smell. Dr. Archer recommends flossing before you brush for best results.
Dentists will always recommend using 18 inches of floss when cleaning teeth.
You need a sizeable amount of floss to ensure you use a fresh part of the floss between each tooth. If your teeth are tight, the floss sometimes gets a little shredded, so you’ll have to use a new area if this happens. Another reason to use a longer length of floss is so you have fresh areas that won’t transfer food particles or plaque to other teeth as you clean. For a quick way to get about the right amount, measure the floss to around you elbow from the tip of your finger.
Bad breath is at its worst in the morning.
It comes as no surprise that bad breath is probably the worst in the morning. You’ve been sleeping, which means you haven’t been swallowing or talking, and you usually wake up parched. But we all get bad breath, and the only people who probably don’t are babies whose mouths are full of saliva that helps keep their breath fresh. Anything you can do to increase your saliva flow rate is great, so having a glass of alcohol or mouthwash at the end of the day is potentially one of the worst things you can do. You’re mouth may end up being drier, and potentially smellier, as a result.
Sugar-free gum is one of the best ways to combat bad breath temporarily.
Sugar-free gum, if chewed for five minutes or less, is a great way to freshen your breath. It gets your saliva going, and is probably the best thing to reach for over any other candy or mint. But it’s a temporary fix — and Dr. Archer says you should toss it after five minutes.
It’s really hard to tell if you have bad breath.
In most cases, people are used to their own scents and it’s difficult to detect if you have bad breath, especially as you get older. Some hacks might work, such as breathing into your own hand, licking your wrist and smelling after it dries, but there is actually no concrete method. A trusted friend might be your best bet, but your dentist or hygienist should also be happy to answer the awkward question for you too. They’re there to help, can help you address your concerns, and help you achieve fresher breath in the future.