by Crissy Lee, RDH (Registered Dental Hygienist)
Dentistry of the Carolinas – Gastonia
At some point or another, most of us have thought to ourselves, “Is my breath okay?” Whether it’s a first date, a job interview, or a social event, there’s something to be said about breath confidence.
The fact is, because of the positioning of the nose and mouth, most people cannot smell their own breath. Luckily there are a few ways to give yourself a quick breath check. Because your nose is already familiar with the air inside of your mouth through the back of your throat, cupping your hand and breathing into it will not work. Use the methods below to determine your breath’s status. After each test, rate yourself with either a GOOD, COULD IMPROVE A LITTLE, or LORD HAVE MERCY.
Test 1: Lick the back of your hand, wait 20 seconds or until dry, then smell it and rate yourself.
Test 2: Scrap your tongue from the back to the front with an upside down spoon, take a whiff, then rate yourself again.
Test 3: Floss. If you do not have floss (and shame on you if you don’t) use a toothpick or your fingernail to scrape some plaque off of your teeth near the gum line, smell the floss, toothpick or fingernail and rate.
Test 4: For denture or partial wearers only, take your removable teeth and place them in a sealable baggie for 5 minutes, open the bag, smell and rate.
So how did your breath rate?
As a hygienist, I like to start with the worst first, so once you’ve figured out your score use the tips below to fix the problem.
LORD HAVE MERCY ON MY BREATH: You need some serious help here. Don’t be upset that people haven’t mentioned this to you, because this is not something that others feel comfortable about discussing. There are several things you need to do to improve your breath.
- See your dentist for a check-up right away. You could have multiple issues/problems occurring.
- Have a professional cleaning and be sure to get homecare instructions from an awesome hygienist.
- Brush twice daily for 2 minutes, including your tongue.
- Floss daily.
- Rinse with an antimicrobial mouth rinse.
*If these methods do not work, see your primary care physician. There may be an underlying medical condition causing the offensive breath, such as sinus troubles or gastroenterological issues.
COULD USE A LITTLE HELP: You’re doing okay and you are probably already doing most of the recommended methods from above, but need to change a few things.
- Go to the dentist, find that awesome hygienist and have them show you the correct way to brush and floss. This will improve your dental homecare.
- Try different products to see if that helps.
*After these steps, test again to make sure you’re on track.
GOOD: If you’ve passed all the tests with flying colors, then GREAT JOB! Keep up the good work but you still need to visit your dentist and hygienist on a regular basis to keep it that way.
*Dentistry of the Carolinas recommends hygiene appointments every six months for most people.