At Dr. Crapo & Associates, we see patients from all kinds of different backgrounds, and not all of them take care of their teeth and gums the same way. Proper dental hygiene habits are essential to promoting oral health. Here are a few facts and tips to help you care for your teeth and gums.
Hard-bristled brushes or applying too much pressure on your teeth can wear down your enamel. You should brush your teeth using a soft-bristled brush while applying only light pressure, which will help your teeth last longer.
Don’t brush side to side: brush up or down, from your gums to the tip of your teeth. You can use toothpaste containing fluoride to strengthen your enamel or tartar-control toothpaste to prevent plaque from turning into tartar, so your teeth will stay cleaner longer. Only use a pea-sized dollop of toothpaste, as larger quantities are actually less effective.
Flossing removes plaque and food residue from between your teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach. We recommend that you always floss your teeth before brushing them. You should use a type of floss that is comfortable for you and floss daily. Flossing isn’t as effective if you don’t use the right technique, so ask your hygienist to give you a demonstration during your next your visit.
Mouthwash is much less important than brushing and flossing. Sometimes, the alcohol present in most mouthwashes can even make problems worse by irritating and drying your mouth. Two products have however been proven effective in reducing plaque: Listerine® mouthwashes, which can be helpful but contain alcohol, and chlorhexidine-based mouthwashes, which are effective but only available by prescription.
What Causes Bad Breath?
Dead and dying bacterial cells release a sulfur compound which has an unpleasant odour. When bacteria accumulate in areas of the mouth such as tooth cavities, for example, they can cause halitosis, or bad breath. Bacterial plaque and food debris can accumulate in cracks and crevices on the tongue, as well as in areas which can’t easily be cleaned, such as deep pockets around the teeth, as is the case for people with periodontitis.
Odorous foods such as garlic can also cause bad breath because the body absorbs the food’s volatile compounds, which evaporate from the lungs. Bad breath can also be caused by:
How Do You Treat Bad Breath?
You should start by visiting your dentist for a complete oral examination, a review of your dental history, and an optional odour-meter test, which can accurately measure the extent of your halitosis problem. Treating periodontal disease and oral infections, repairing cavities, and removing impacted teeth will help eliminate halitosis.
Once any oral infections have been cured, you should prioritize good oral hygiene, including brushing your teeth and tongue. Mouthwashes and toothpastes can help to manage bad breath, but they won’t eliminate odours caused by odorous foods, diabetes, or kidney or liver diseases, for example.
If you have bad breath even after your dentist has treated potential oral-health causes, you should see your doctor to rule out other causes.