Halitosis is Not a Laughing Matter

Dec. 6, 2001
Oral hygiene is the key in reducing this common probelm.

You're talking with a friend and all of a sudden you notice they are making strange faces. You know you didn't say anything funny, and you're wondering why they are making such faces. As they gasp for air, it occurs to you -- you have bad breath!

Halitosis, more commonly known as bad breath, affects many people. While it can be the result of a digestive system problem, halitosis may require you to visit your family physician. In many cases, it is caused by poor oral hygiene, lack of saliva in the mouth or a buildup of food particles and other debris left behind after brushing and flossing. These conditions allow bacteria to fester and grow, leaving behind sulfur compounds that give the breath a foul odor.

What can you do to eliminate or reduce bad breath? The following are a few suggestions on ways to say good-bye to bad breath.

-- Consider using dental hygiene products that contain chlorine dioxide or cetylpyridinium. Using breath mints or sprays are only temporary solutions that keep bad breath under control or "hidden" for a short period of time. You need to get to the root of the problem.

-- Brush your teeth for longer than a minute. Removing bacteria from teeth is very important in reducing your chance of having bad breath. It takes only an average of two to three minutes to brush all tooth surfaces. Most people spend less than one minute brushing their entire mouth.

-- Consider brushing with baking soda or toothpastes that contain baking soda.

-- Floss, floss. and floss again. This is one of the most important

things you can do to prevent bad breath since it loosens food

particles that get stuck and decay in your teeth. Once the food

starts decaying, it causes bacteria growth that leaves a bad odor in the mouth.

-- Don't forget to brush your tongue. Odor causing bacteria hide deep within the tongue's crevices.

-- Snack on carrots, celery or other vegetables to keep plaque from

forming on teeth.

-- Increase the production of saliva. Saliva is the mouth's natural

mouthwash and acts as an antibiotic that reduces bacteria. If you

continually have a dry mouth, two suggestions for increasing saliva are drinking more water or chewing sugarless gum.

So, the next time individuals are making funny faces while you're trying to carry on a conversation, before getting mad, think about it. You may have halitosis. Have no fear, there are fixes for it, and your PDA member dentist can help.

For more information on good dental health, visit the Pennsylvania

Dental Association's website at www.padental.org.