by Carol Meyer, R.D.H.
Bad breath is one of life’s most personal problems. It can break business deals, stop love in its tracks, and ruin otherwise fine relationships. If you eat, drink, speak or sleep, sooner or later bad breath will get you. And left untreated, it can make your life and the lives around you miserable.
But what can you do to really keep your breath fresh? Throughout my 25 years of working as a Dental Hygienist and Personal Breath Consultant, thousands of people have asked me what products and remedies really help maintain a fresh mouth. In response to those requests I wrote “Breathless…Your Practical Guide to Up-Close Fresh Breath Confidence”. Written with a touch of humor and in easy to understand language, Breathless is the first definite guide to explain the causes and remedies for unpleasant breath. Through Breathless, I reveal the most basic secrets of fresh breath, secrets few professionals have ever shared before. Despite what many “experts” will tell you, fresh breath is not the result of extensive diagnosis or expensive treatments. On the contrary, for the majority of us fresh breath is the result of following a few simple daily procedures that I will gladly share with you now.
The most important thing to know is that fresh breath is the happy by-product of a healthy body and mouth. No fresh breath product, no matter how expensive or sophisticated, can help if your mouth isn’t healthy to begin with. Although they’re fine for the “quick fix”, mouthwashes, mints, and breath sprays can only camouflage bad breath.
No mouthwashes, mints, and breath sprays (which only last for a limited time) can do the trick over the long haul. That’s because they don’t always destroy the volatile sulphur compounds (VSC’s) that are at the root of bad breath. VSC’s are the by-products of the bacteria found in your mouth. The fact is 80% of the time volatile sulphur compounds are the evil culprits that cause foul mouth odors. There are many contributing factors that increase the amount of VSC’s in your mouth, thereby increasing unpleasant odors. Dry mouth, hormonal changes, tongue bacteria and stress are just a few factors that will increase mouth odors.
Certainly, there are physiological conditions that result in bad breath, but in these cases, bad breath is a symptom of an underlying cause that generally has other symptoms as well. Cure the underlying cause and the bad breath usually goes away…unless, of course, you’re still not taking proper care of your breath.
There’s no getting around it — fresh breath comes from a healthy mouth. So the best way to ensure lasting fresh breath is to maintain a regimen of diligent oral hygiene. Which means regular dental cleanings and hydromagnetic irrigation (Hydrofloss or Oxycare 3000 unit) to remove bacterial plaque from all the hard to reach areas. Using a hydromagnetic irrigator daily will replace flossing and is far more effective in removing debris lodged between your teeth and under your gums. The most important procedure for a fresh smile is daily tongue combing. Tongue combing is the scraping of the surface of your tongue with a tongue scraper.
If you’re in the market for a truly effective fresh breath product, stay away from those with alcohol and artificial coloring. The alcohol will actually dry out your mouth tissues and return your bad breath in even greater measure, just like it does when you’re drinking an alcoholic beverage. And the artificial coloring is something neither your mouth nor body needs.
Instead look for products that contain one or more of the following ingredients: stabilized chlorine dioxide or zinc. Chlorine dioxide eliminates the production of VSC’s for at least three hours or more. To cleanse your breath the natural way, drink lots of water. Try some fresh breath herbs such as peppermint, wintergreen, spearmint, parsley, basil or cloves. They will all leave your breath pleasantly-scented and approachable.
You may also want to consult a professional practitioner who specializes in breath image consulting – someone who can coach you to the sweetest smelling breath. If you do seek the services of such a practitioner, shop around and compare costs. Be aware that instruments which test your breath are often bogus and a waste of your money. So ask about the different types of products and methods that they would recommend to make your smile fresh.
A fresh breath smile will always make a great impression. So to minimize the risk of ruining a business deal or losing a love interest, follow these simple tips to get and keep your smile fresh.
1. Brush your teeth, cheeks and gums with a chlorine dioxide toothpaste.
2. Comb your tongue.
3. Use a hydromagnetic irrigator.
4. Wash your mouth with a stabilized chlorine rinse.
5. Sip room temperature water or mint lemon water.
6. Avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks as they dry your mouth.
7. Use a mouth moisturizer or a saliva stimulant to keep your mouth moist.
8. Eat fresh breath herbs like parsley, dill, basil or peppermint.
9. Place a mint pouch in your mouth – it’s good for 3 hours of minty breath.
10. Read “Breathless …” for more detailed fresh breath advice.
Carol Meyer, R.D.H., is a registered Dental Hygienist, a professional Image Consultant, author, president of PBC – Personal Breath Consultants, Inc., and founder of National Fresh Breath Day – August 6th. She may be reached at [email protected] or 516-288-7285.