Simple tips for good oral hygiene

Factors that causes bad breath and what we can do about it

Brushing your teeth in the morning is a routine nobody fails to do. But after a hard day’s work we are so tired that sometimes we just crash to bed after dinner, without bothering to clean our teeth.

This results in poor oral hygiene causing bad breath. Studies report that about 50 – 65 per cent of the working population suffer from bad breath.

The main villains

    • If food remains in your mouth for a long time, it increases the chances of tooth decay. Rinsing your mouth immediately after eating is a good habit, especially if you have just eaten something sweet. This will prevent the formation of plaques.

Both, rinsing after meals and brushing teeth twice daily, are critical to keep tartar and plaque at bay. Use clinically-tested toothpaste that provides longer protection.

Research shows that even common conditions like acidity and indigestion cause bad breath.

  • Other factors that adversely affect oral hygiene are smoking, chewing beetle nut and tobacco. These habits lead to bad breath, tooth decay, gum disease, damage to tooth enamel and eventually tooth loss.

Knights in shining armour

  • Dentists say that poor oral hygiene is the main cause of gum disease and tooth decay. Hence, along with brushing your teeth twice a day, it is also important to clean your tongue regularly. This practice reduces bad breath and improves oral hygiene as a large number of bacteria reside in the rough corrugated surface of the tongue.
  • After you eat a high-sugar snack, rinse your mouth with water, and then eat a small piece of cheese or chew some sugar-free gum. Cheese provides calcium to replace the lost minerals and helps to even up the bacterial balance in your mouth. Chewing gum also stimulates the flow of saliva. Opt to drink your soft drink with a straw. This will limit the amount of sugar that touches your teeth.
  • Supplements, like vitamin C, help decrease the occurrence of dental cavities, bad breath and gum disease. Vitamin C is vital for the production of collagen—the main protein-building block for all living tissues—which, in turn, makes the tissues more resistant to bacterial penetration. Vitamin C also keeps oral tissues healthy. A deficiency of vitamin C causes gums to swell and bleed.
  • The best drinks for teeth are plain water or milk. Drinking coffee or tea stains your teeth and dries your mouth. Caffeine inhibits your saliva’s ability to combat tooth decay. Acidic drinks like orange juice can also attack your teeth. To avoid damaging your teeth, brush your teeth within an hour after you consume any acidic food or drink.

A happy ending

Given below are some useful tips to keep your teeth healthy for as long as you want:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods from all the five major food groups.
  • Avoid high-sugar foods.
  • Brush twice a day. Learn the correct way to brush from the dentist. Avoid aggressive brushing.
  • Remember to floss everyday.
  • Get your teeth checked and cleaned every six months.
  • Rinse your mouth thoroughly after every meal.
  • Get all existing dental problems—bleeding gums, missing teeth, cavities—treated immediately. Prolonging treatment can lead to further severe complications. Bad breath may be caused by existing oral diseases such as gum disease and Candida infection. In such a case, see your dentist as soon as possible.
  • Have herbs, the natural antibiotics. Fresh parsley and aloe vera are effective in preventing bad breath. Chew fresh parsley whenever you can. It not only detoxifies your mouth, but it also contains abundant chlorophyll, which sweetens your breath. Furthermore, all this will increase the flow of saliva that helps avoid dry mouth. Make your own mouthwash: mix two teaspoons aloe vera juice with a tumbler of water.
  • Eat crisp fruits and vegetables such as apple, celery, cucumber and carrot. Chewing them cleans the mouth naturally by removing plaque and food particles stuck between your teeth and gums.
  • Chewing sugarless gum increases salivation. Saliva has anti-bacterial properties so the more saliva you have, the more you suppress the bacterial growth. Fennel seeds, cinnamon sticks, mastic gum and fresh parsley are some of the commonly found food items that help you salivate naturally.
  • Stay away from foods that cause foul breath such as garlic, onions, meats, fish, and cheese.

This was first published in the January 2010 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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