Expert advice for fresh breath
According to experts, around half of South Africans suffer from bad breath and this is often due simply to inadequate oral hygiene. We asked three dental professionals to explain the most essential steps to help you beat bad breath for good.
Dr Linda Greenwall is a London-based dentist who founded the Dental Wellness Trust. Their South African LiveSmart programme currently teaches good oral care to 15,000 children in poorly-resourced areas of Cape Town and Johannesburg. Greenwall says many South Africans don’t know the basic oral skills: “When they first join us many children don’t own a toothbrush, they may share one with their family. It’s unsurprising so many have dental disease before the age of six. Brushing the teeth correctly twice a day is essential for good oral health, fresh breath and to prevent cavities.”
This isn’t only a problem in low-income areas; according to Angelique Kearney, President of the Oral Hygiene Association of South Africa (OHASA). ”More than half of South Africans suffer from bad breath, medically known as halitosis. It goes hand in hand with poor oral hygiene, gum disease and other oral health issues. Only a very small percentage of cases of oral malodour are caused by sinus problems or metabolic diseases.”
Bad breath is caused by bacteria on the teeth, gums and tongue. “If bacteria, plaque and food debris are not properly removed from the mouth they break down and release foul-smelling gases, irritate the gums and potentially cause disease,” says Dirna Grobbelaar, Ivohealth’s Oral Hygiene Advisor.
“Additional tools like an alcohol-free mouthwash and toothpaste are helpful, but most important part of your oral care routine is the mechanical removal of plaque on the teeth”, says Kearney.
All three experts agree an effective daily oral care routine is the best way to keep the mouth healthy and breath fresh. Grobbelaar explains the four essential steps to beat bad breath:
- Brush correctly twice a day for a full two minutes each time, this will remove about 50% of plaque. Use a soft-bristled brush and small movements. Don’t brush hard, it can damage your gums. Sonic toothbrushes – like the Philips Sonicare or Sunstar GUM ActiVital Sonic have been shown to remove more plaque than a manual brush.
- Clean in-between the teeth every day, using floss or another interdental tool, such as Sunstar GUM Soft-Picks or tiny interdental brushes. If you’re not sure how to do it correctly, or which tool to use, ask your dental professional. These videos will help you can floss like a boss.
- Remove plaque and food debris from the tongue by gently scraping the surface once a day using a teaspoon or a tool specially designed for the job like the Sunstar GUM Tongue Cleaner.
- In addition to your daily routine, book an appointment with your dentist at least once a year and ideally go for a professional clean every six months. Dentists and oral hygienists have the expertise and tools to remove plaque and tartar that you can’t, even with the most meticulous oral routine.
To check if your oral routine is really effective, try Sunstar GUM Red-Cote Disclosing Tablets, available from dentists and pharmacies. Simply chew one of the cherry-flavoured tablets after brushing to reveal any areas you’ve missed, then brush and floss again until your mouth is completely clean. These are great tools to help teach children good oral hygiene.
For expert oral advice, speak to your dental professional or subscribe to our monthly newsletter for up-to-date info and news.