Q: Good morning Dr It’s an issue that have been given me sleepless night. Bad breath or mouth odor has been dealing with me for several years now, I have been to the dentist but no good response, I have used every thing possible but to no avail. I do change toothbrush every 3 months, using xxxx toothpaste immediately after brushing the odors will come up again. Please ma’am help me.
A: Thanks for writing in. I repeat below a post I had made earlier on bad breath in children and adults.
Bad breath at any age is traumatic but in a young child, it often leaves the parents wondering what they are doing wrong
Improper brushing of teeth is always an issue. People argue that they brush their teeth and their children’s teeth properly, but this may not be completely true. Do you brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes, paying attention to every section? Do you brush your tongue? Do you floss? Remember that food particles between teeth can interact with bacteria that live normally in the mouth and lead to stinking mouths…same for food debris at the gum line and tonsils. And then, when a baby has a congested nose and breaths with his/her mouth, the dry conditions enable the bacteria to thrive.
Tonsilitis, finger sucking by babies, tooth cavities and buildup of tartar on teeth can all cause bad breath.
What can you do as a parent? Get involved. Help your baby with brushing the teeth to teach him the right technique. (When you say, he brushes twice a day, I hope this doesn’t mean he’s doing it without supervision?) Brushing times can become fun bonding times for mummy and her son or for daddy and son. Sing nice fun songs and brush your own teeth at the same time too
Remember that oral care (care of the mouth) should start even before the first tooth erupts. Regularly wipe your baby’s mouth and gum with a wet flannel and as soon as the first tooth/teeth erupt, start brushing. Use tooth paste that does not contain fluoride until your baby can spit. What tooth paste does not contain fluoride? Ask at your regular supermarket or simply pick up the packs of the different tooth pastes and look for one that does not contain fluoride
J Use a tiny amount of paste at this initial time (about the size of a grain of rice), then graduate to a pea sized amount and tooth paste that contains fluoride, when the child can spit out.
Remember the rule of twos: Take your baby to see the dentist twice a year, help him and teach him to brush his teeth at least twice a day (three if you can manage it, after every meal) and be sure to ensure that he spends at least 2 minutes brushing his teeth. A simple way of doing this is mentally dividing the mouth/teeth into four quadrants/sections. Then spend at least 30 seconds on each side, making sure you brush every surface of the teeth.
Then be sure not to forget the tongue. Pay attention to every side and use a soft bristled brush to do a good job. There are tongue scrapers which can be purchased alone or tooth brushes which come with bristles at the back for brushing the tongue.
Stay off alcoholic mouth washes for your baby as the alcohol just worsens the dryness in the mouth, And remember that mouth washes are just temporary fixes. They only mask the bad breath and not treat it.
Encourage your baby to drink water regularly, especially if they have dry mouths and they’ve got to scrub their hands regularly too, if they suck their fingers/thumb.
These should be sufficient to stop the bad breath. If they don’t however, please see your doctor to rule out other causes of bad breath which cavities in the teeth etc
And for adults…..
Bad breath, also called halitosis, may be as a result of poor hygiene habits, eating strong smelling foods or could be a sign of other medical conditions.
If adequate dental hygiene is not maintained, food particles can remain in our mouths, encouraging bacterial growth bacteria in our mouths can break down food particles and raise a serious stink. Proper dental hygiene habits includes:
Brushing your teeth twice a day (this sounds like a ‘no-brainer’ but the right technique is important. Mentally divide your mouth into four quadrants and spend at least 30 seconds on each quadrant. This way, you spend a minimum of 2 minutes brushing)
Brushing your tongue (if you finish brushing and you can still see all that whitish residue on your tongue, you haven’t done a good job. Some of the smell comes from there. Some tooth brushes come with a tongue scraper at the back of the brush…use that. If not, buy one or just use your brush)
Flossing your teeth everyday. Ask for this in your local super markets. This gets rid of the food particles between your teeth where your tooth brush can’t reach.
Using a mouthwash can also help the prevention of mouth odour.
Eating strong smelling foods like onions and garlic could also cause mouth odour, which may not be taken care of by brushing. This is because these ‘foods’ are absorbed into the blood stream and excreted through the lungs. So, the smell will persist until excretion is complete. The small can be masked with mouthwash etc
Disease conditions that can lead to bad breath include mouth infections, Diabetes Mellitus, sinus infection etc.
Other conditions like use of tobacco (chewing or smoking), some drugs and dry mouth (which is the reason for morning breath :D) are also culprits.
Prevention is focused on the tips given above and ensuring that you visit your dentist at least twice a year, brushing at least twice a day (if not after every meal) with a fluoride tooth paste (remember that fluoride is not recommended for children less than 2-3 years and even then, only a pea size is recommended), change your tooth brush once every three months and drink lots of water.
Let’s keep the pearls shining and the breath smelling really fresh.
By the way, would you tell a friend, if he/she had bad breath?
I asked that question during one of my shows and most people didn’t want to be the one that causes offence by telling someone that they have bad breath. However, most people also wanted to be told if they had bad breath. So, who will bell the cat? 😀
Did you miss the show? Catch it here and watch me have fun putting OC Ukeje on the hot spot. https://chatwithdrketch.com/2015/05/03/watch-the-dr-ketch-show-episode-on-bad-breath-here/
Have a good evening, y’all 😀