Dentist and founder of The Breath Company, Dr. Harold Katz shares his top five tips to kiss with confidence this Valentines
1 Hydrate – Staying hydrated is a key factor in the battle against bad breath. Dehydration is caused by not drinking enough but can also be caused by many factors including illness, sweating, excessive alcohol consumption and poor diet and exercise choices to name but a few. Dehydration can cause halitosis because bacteria that live in the mouth tend to multiply as the mouth dries out. Dehydration causes a decrease in the production of saliva which fights many of these bacteria, so be sure to drink plenty of water – this can also help reduce the risk of bad breath by rinsing the mouth of food particles between brushings.
2 You are what you eat (or rather your breath is) – When food sits in the wrong environment for too long, it starts to spoil. This same process happens to the small pieces left in the mouth after you eat due to the bacteria in proteins. That is why bad breath can occur no matter what you eat, however some foods have a tendency to cause bad breath more than others. Avoid dishes that are abundant in foods like onions, garlic and curry, if you are worried about your breath. Acidic foods and beverages like tomatoes, pineapple, citrus, coffee and sugary foods contain high levels of acids which cause bacteria to reproduce more rapidly. These foods are also responsible for things like plaque, gum disease, tooth staining and tooth decay – all of which contribute to bad breath.
3 Go easy on the mints – Unfortunately, all the gum and mints in the world won’t stop chronic halitosis. Sucking mints or chewing gum does serve as a good occasional short-term fix, but if they contain sugar, they may only worsen the situation in the long run. Leaving sugar in the mouth for extended periods of time can lead to an accumulation of sticky plaque on the teeth and encourages the growth of bacteria. I’d recommend trying to avoid candy mints all together, and choose a gum that doesn’t contain sugar, aspartame, artificial flavours or colours.
4 Brush and floss regularly but avoid harsh soap in toothpaste Brushing helps eradicate the plaque and bacteria on your teeth, however some toothpastes contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), a soapy detergent that creates foam but has no cleaning benefit. The additive has recently been linked to serious side effects including canker sores. Flossing is an extra step, but an important one, as it helps gets in between the teeth where toothbrushes sometimes miss.
5 Rinse, but keep it alcohol free – Regular and specific use of alcohol-free mouth rinses will help calm the gum area and work to eliminate germs associated with gum disease, as well as reducing the formation of biofilm which leads to plaque and tartar build-up. It’s
important to steer clear of alcohol-based mouthwashes as these can cause dry mouth, and just mask odours rather than killing off bacteria.