3 Simple Steps to Fresher Breath for Your Valentine’s Kiss
Ladies and gentlemen, February is almost upon us. The start of the year’s second month brings about two big events: the Super Bowl of football and the Super Bowl of romance - Valentine’s Day, of course. While we can’t give you tips on if the Patriots will cover the spread this year, we can offer three simple things you can do to make sure that your Valentine’s kiss doesn’t send your significant other running for the hills. Read on - your love life will thank you!
1. Clean your tongue
In all the talk about the importance of flossing and brushing your teeth, it’s important not to forget that large amounts of odor-causing bacteria can also accumulate on the tongue. The nooks and crannies of the tongue act as a haven for these stinky bugs, and if they’re left undisturbed, chances of a toe-curling kiss at the end of your Valentine’s date may drop dramatically.
To remedy this, use your soft-bristled toothbrush to clean the top and sides of your tongue. Be aware--the very back parts of the tongue contain nerve endings that can trigger the gag reflex. Many toothbrushes now feature a textured tongue-scrubber on the back of the brush head. You can also purchase very inexpensive tongue scrapers at any retail store to help remove bacterial buildup from the tongue surface. (Don’t worry; “tongue scrapers” are not as intense as they sound!)
2. Watch your diet
It goes without saying that if your Valentine’s date takes you to an Italian restaurant, it’s wise to limit the garlic and onions. Obviously, foods with a strong odor naturally contribute to bad breath. However, there is more to the picture.
Sugary drinks, caffeinated drinks and alcoholic beverages all contribute to dryness of the mouth, and a dry mouth very quickly becomes a stinky mouth. The solution is simple: replace these types of beverages with good old water. In addition to the countless benefits of reducing the harmful beverages in your daily diet, your oral health will improve significantly.
3. The space between…
While brushing and rinsing are important steps to maintaining a healthy mouth, those two techniques alone aren’t enough to completely remove odor-causing bacteria. The interproximal spaces - the spaces in between the teeth - are usually the most neglected areas of the mouth, and it’s here where I see the highest incidence of dental disease in my practice. Bacteria that cause cavities, gum disease and bad breath congregate between the teeth just above and beneath the gumline. Those are tight spaces that are often unreachable with a toothbrush.
The simplest solution, of course, is to floss regularly. Dentists have been preaching the benefits of flossing for years, but studies continue to show that patients still don’t make it a habit. I recommend trying Soft-Picks by GUM. These toothpick-shaped cleaners are inexpensive, much simpler to use than traditional floss and do an excellent job removing plaque and bacteria between the teeth. A Waterpik, while a bit more expensive, is also great for reducing the amount of bacteria in the gum pockets that surround the teeth.
That’s it! Give these tips a try, and you’re sure to stand a better chance of a hair-straightening, toe-curling smooch at the end of your Valentine’s night. As always, we welcome new patients into our practice. Contact us today to schedule your new patient visit, and we’ll help you get on the path to a healthy (and non-stinky) mouth!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Persistent bad breath can be an indicator of active gum disease or other serious health conditions. In these cases, even the best attempts at home oral care will not be able to adequately clean the spaces around the teeth and remove aggressive, odor-causing bacteria. If you have made regular, disciplined efforts to maintain a healthy mouth but still notice a bad odor in the mouth, contact us right away to schedule an appointment for an in-depth assessment of your oral health.