Last week I had a day in Vancouver. I thought I had a nice outfit on and my hair looked pretty good. Feeling confident, I started small talk with the good looking guy across from me. Soon, I was smiling and flirting. During all of this, I quickly I realized that I had eaten garlic the night before and I started to fear that I had strong garlicky breath.
I started to inch my way away from him. He probably thought I was a little strange but I thought it is better to be at a safe distance than to impose my breath on him.
I wanted to learn more about how to keep your breath fresh (for such occasions) and also my teeth white (for all those blueberry smoothies I love). So I spoke to Jo-Anne Jones, RDH International Lecturer, President, RDH Connection Inc. and Key Leader for Philips Oral Healthcare.
Jo-Anne shared with me her top tips to keep breath fresh and teeth white.
What are the top tips to have fresh breath?
Brush your teeth, gums, and especially your tongue every day. Odour-causing bacteria and food particles combined can cause bad breath. Use a tongue scraper to remove bacteria and food debris. Clinical studies have shown that tongue scraping significantly reduces and removes oral bacteria from the crevices of the tongue.
Clean in between your teeth every day. Many areas of the mouth are somewhat self-cleansing; however the greatest entrapment area is in between the teeth. Accumulation of bacteria and food products remaining for prolonged periods of time will not only cause bad breath but will also contribute to inflammation.
Don't ignore a persistent warning sign of an underlying disease. Often a bad taste in the mouth or a persistent odour can be a warning sign of an underlying disease. Periodontal or gum disease is often silent until it is in the advanced stages.
Bad breath may be that first warning sign that shouldn't ever be ignored. Bad breath can also be a sign of an infection originating from the sinuses, lungs, acid reflux and even kidney and liver problems.
Rinse your mouth daily. Look for a mouthrinse that is alcohol free to avoid the drying effects on the tissues of the mouth, a neutralizing agent and an antibacterial component proven to reduce bacterial levels. Fluoride will also provide you with added cavity protection.
Chewing gum with xylitol. Xylitol is nature's secret weapon. It is naturally occurring in many of the fruits and vegetables we eat every day. Xylitol is a natural insulin stabilizer as it has a very low glycemic index meaning that it doesn't spike the insulin requirement like another sugar such as glucose would.
Xylitol is on the shelf in your local drugstore.
What are the top tips to keep your teeth white and avoid stains?
Use an effective toothbrush. Avoid stain-producing foods and drinks. Essentially 'anything that would stain a white shirt' will stain the teeth. This includes red wine, colas, tea, coffee, blueberries etc.
If you are going to consume these foods or beverages, it would be wise to rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking. This will help to dilute the stain forming power of certain dietary influencers.
Regular professional care. This is key as stain will accumulate so much faster where there is tartar buildup on the teeth. One of the first areas to stain is in between teeth.
Reason being is that the average person may brush their teeth daily however is not cleaning in between their teeth on a regular basis. Once there is tartar buildup and accumulation, there is a rough area for attachment of bacteria and subsequent staining.
Professional Teeth Whitening. There are many great options available to people to effectively whiten teeth. From professional Zoom! in-office treatments to the portable whitening pens, all are effective and will give your smile a renewed, youthful appearance. It is critically important to have a dental professional evaluate your teeth first as whitening is not suitable for all people.
What are the top tips to keep your teeth clean?
Many of the answers to the preceding question apply to this question as well. Effective brushing methods, regular professional care and avoidance of stain-producing foods all serve to keep your smile bright and clean. Power toothbrushes can be far more effective in the hard to reach areas as well as assist a person who may have limited manual dexterity due to arthritis or other conditions.
How often should you brush?
Ideally you should brush your teeth 2x daily. There are strategic times in which brushing can be beneficial and conversely times when brushing, particularly with an aggressive method using a manual toothbrush can actually be damaging.
What do most people do incorrectly with teeth care?
Brush too hard. A stiff bristled brush is never recommended. The majority of the people brush way too hard. This can cause injury to the tooth structure over time. It is best to use a soft toothbrush and ideally a power toothbrush where the bristles will do the work.
Use too much toothpaste. A pea sized amount of toothpaste is recommended.
Brush too fast. Most people brush for 30 seconds or less. The ideal time frame is two minutes.
What are top MYTHS about keeping teeth clean and white?
Myth: Brush right after eating. Many of the foods in our diet lower the pH in our mouth creating a very acidic environment. Saliva is a wonderful thing. With its specific enzymes, it helps to break down foods and over a period of time brings the acidic environment back to a neutral zone after we eat. Brushing immediately after eating can actually harm our teeth.
It is recommended to wait at least 30 to 60 minutes before grabbing that toothbrush. Another plan would be to brush when you first get up in the morning. This will eliminate the 'overnight' bacterial buildup.
Myth: A toothbrush will last for several months. Toothbrush heads will harbour bacteria and also will lose their degree of effectiveness over time with daily use.
It is recommended to replace a toothbrush or a power toothbrush head once every three months. You'll be glad you did. Let your brush air dry as a moist brush head is an ideal environment for bacterial growth.
Myth. A mouth rinse will remove breath odour. Alcohol based mouthrinses will have a tendency to dry out the mouth which tends to heighten the problem. Mouthrinses on their own do not have the capability to remove all the bacteria that cause bad breath. They may mask the problem temporarily.
Myth. Chewing parsley will freshen the breath. This unfortunately is an old wives' tale. It may mask the breath odour for a very short time. Chlorophyll has mild antibacterial properties but is not strong enough to break down the bacterial build up in the mouth.
Myth. Mouthrinse is a good alternative to brushing. In today's fast-paced society it is often easier to grab a swig of mouthwash than spend the time cleaning our teeth.
Beware as this is not an effective replacement and the short cut will produce ill effects in the long run. Mouthrinse can be used as a complement to good brushing but never considered as a replacement.
Myth. Over the counter whitening products are just as effective as in-office professional whitening products. Buyer beware. There is little legislation imposed on over the counter whitening products.
There are many false guarantees made and savvy marketing statements to attract the consumer. Also a 'one size fits all' approach to tooth whitening can result in the injury to soft tissues in the mouth. A consumer is always best to consult with a dental professional before commencing any type of tooth whitening. There may be reasons why tooth whitening is not for you or at least not right at the moment.
Myth. The stronger the solution the whiter my teeth will become. All whitening products which employ hydrogen peroxide as an active ingredient are going to whiten the teeth. A stronger solution will not whiten the teeth further.
It may accomplish the whitening more quickly but all tooth structure will eventually reach a saturation point. Typically a lower percentage of hydrogen peroxide is recommended if you have sensitive teeth. A slower process will produce the same result however will be much more comfortable.
Myth. Whitening products will weaken the enamel. Whitening products will not weaken the structure of the enamel however there may be a temporary change in the outer layer. Many professional products will incorporate calcium and phosphate (natural minerals found in tooth structure) into their whitening products and recommended toothpastes.
These are very helpful in reducing any tooth sensitivity. Again always wise to consult with a dental professional first. Do it right the first time!
Any other tips for general good oral teeth care?
There is so much fascinating research becoming available that connects the health of the mouth to the health of the body. We do understand that chronic inflammation such as periodontal disease (gum disease) can place a heavy burden on the body's immune response.
Some of today's most prevalent diseases are linked by a common pathway; the inflammatory response. Periodontal disease is the most common, chronic disease known to mankind and its initial symptoms are so subtle that they can often be missed. A dental professional such as a dental hygienist or dentist is trained to assess for early warning signs. A healthy mouth is a strong contributor to a healthy body.
Also, the face of oral cancer is changing rapidly. There are two distinct pathways that may cause oral cancer. The first well known risk factor is tobacco including smokeless tobacco products and especially in combination with alcohol consumption.
The second has the medical and dental communities alerted due to its rapid escalation. It is caused by a very common virus which 75 per cent of Canadians will be affected by at some point in their lifetime. It is the Human papillomavirus or HPV that is the culprit. Again the signs of this type of oral cancer can be very subtle.
Oral cancer screening is part of regular routine care by a dental hygienist or dentist. What your dental professional knows just may save your life.
I will be using all of these helpful tips to stay healthy, keep my breath fresh and teeth white.
Your suggestions are always welcome, as I continue on my journey to live life to the fullest. Let's have the very best 2015!
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