Today marks World Oral Health Day. Around half of South Africans suffer from bad breath and this is often due simply to inadequate oral hygiene, according to dentists.
Three dental professionals explain the most essential steps to help 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.
Dr 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.
They all agree an effective daily oral care routine is the best way to keep the mouth healthy and breath fresh.
Ms Grobbelaar explains the four essential steps to beat bad breath:
1. Brush correctly twice a day for two minutes each time, with a soft-bristled brush.
2. Clean in-between the teeth every day, using floss or another interdental tool, or tiny interdental brushes.
3. 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.
4. Go for an annual check-up at the dentist and ideally have a professional clean with the oral hygienist to remove plaque and tartar build-up.
Ms Kearney adds, “Additional tools like an alcohol-free mouthwash and toothpaste are helpful, but the most important part of your oral care routine is the mechanical removal of plaque on the teeth.”