Bad breath comes down to one culprit: bacteria. According to Silver Spring, MD, cosmetic dentist Joseph Kravitz, DDS, there are more than 3,000 species of bacteria in the mouth. In order to survive, they feed off of protein molecules in the saliva, food particles and dead cells on the tongue. In doing so, a byproduct, volatile sulfur compounds, is released, which emit an odor. You can avoid bad breath by figuring out what’s causing the problem. Test your knowledge and see if you can guess which of these five bad breath statements are true or false:
1.Last night’s dinner could lead to bad breath tomorrow.
Fact:“Food particles left on the teeth are the vehicle for bacteria,” says Joliet, IL, cosmetic dentist Gabriella M. Paolucci, DDS. “As soon as a thickness of .2 millimeters of plaque is evident, that bacteria becomes anaerobic—creating an environment that lacks oxygen—and thrives.”
2. The way you floss can affect your breath.
Fact: Only brushing your teeth and gums, not your tongue, can cause bad breath since about 85 percent of bad breath bacteria live on the tongue.
3. Popping a breath mint is a great cure-all.
Fiction: Masking odors with breath mints can make your breath worse. Mints and gum can have a high concentration of sugars, which provide bacteria the energy they need to multiply and invade the teeth and gums.
4. Implants can cure your bad breath.
Fact: If you’re missing teeth, it’s also likely that you suffer from bad breath. “Bacteria love warm, cozy spaces,” says says New York cosmetic dentist Irwin Smigel, DDS. Anchoring dental implants, or cavity-resistant titanium rods, into the jaw and then topping them off with a crown can help to close up these spaces and prevent bacteria from settling in.
5. Your toothbrush has no effect on your breath.
Fiction: “If you haven’t replaced your toothbrush in three—tops, four months—it can become a breeding ground for bad-breath bacteria,” says says Atlanta cosmetic dentist Ronald E. Goldstein, DDS, who recommends tossing your toothbrush when the bristles start to fray.