Valentine's Day is approaching – a celebration symbolizing love and friendship. Therefore, it is an appropriate moment to consider the importance of fresh breath in relationships. Good oral hygiene is not limited to just a smile; it can have a significant impact on interpersonal interactions, even in the workplace.
Everyone suffers from occasional bad breath, or halitosis. There can be several reasons for this condition. Understanding the root cause is important for addressing and preventing the problem. (1,2)
Halitosis is primarily caused by specific bacteria in the mouth, such as streptococci, which are also found in various infections in the body. Oral bacteria, especially those related to gum disease and periodontitis, can produce volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) that cause foul odors in the mouth and may also be a sign of gum inflammation. These compounds are formed when oral bacteria break down food residues, especially proteins, and other organic substances. (3)
Certain foods, such as garlic, onions, and spices, can also cause bad breath. Avoiding these foods can be a simple way to keep your breath fresh. However, persistent bad breath may be a sign of underlying health issues. For example, diabetes is known to cause a specific acidic odor in the breath. So, if bad breath persists despite efforts to address the problem, it is important to consult a doctor. (4)
Fresh breath boosts confidence
Several studies indicate that bad breath can be a bigger problem for well-being than is commonly understood. Bad breath can cause social awkwardness and affect personal relationships because people may hesitate to engage in close conversations. Improving oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups can help manage and alleviate the social impact of bad breath. (5, 6)
Fresh breath is not only important in special situations, such as Valentine's Day, but also in everyday encounters in all social environments. Good oral hygiene and fresh breath promote the creation of a positive first impression and also influence professional advancement.
Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Read dentist Pirta Liljekvist's tips for achieving fresh breath:
Regular oral hygiene:
Brush your teeth at least twice a day and clean between your teeth once a day to remove food debris and plaque that can cause bad breath.
– Bad breath can signal to others that personal hygiene may be lacking. A polished appearance won't save the situation if your breath is stale, says dentist Pirta Liljekvist.
– It can be difficult to notice if your own breath smells. The floss test tells mercilessly how others perceive your breath, Liljekvist continues.
Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your mouth moist and wash away bacteria. Dry mouth can lead to bad breath.
Fact: Without saliva, tooth decay and gum disease are more likely. If you have dry mouth, you need to be especially careful to follow good oral hygiene practices to combat tooth decay and gum disease.
Some foods temporarily cause bad breath. For example, otherwise healthy onions and garlic can still linger in your breath the next day. If you want your breath to smell fresh, avoid them. Fruits and vegetables make good snacks, just remember to always take breaks between meals. Snacking and too-short breaks between meals are harmful to your teeth.
Use sugar-free and xylitol products:
Tip: Chewing gum stimulates saliva production, which helps neutralize odors and keep breath fresh.
Smoking not only causes bad breath but also increases the risk of gum disease. Quitting smoking can improve overall oral health.
Limit alcohol consumption:
Alcohol can lead to dry mouth, which causes bad breath. Limit alcohol consumption to maintain saliva production. Many mouthwashes also contain alcohol. It's advisable to choose an alcohol-free mouthwash if that's what you prefer to use.
Regular dental visits:
Tip: Schedule regular dental check-ups to detect potential dental problems early.
– Finding the root cause of halitosis starts at the dentist's office. However, one's daily activities in everyday life are crucial. It's not worth letting bad breath become a social problem because there are ways to address it, Liljekvist suggests.
Lumoral freshens breath
Lumoral is an antibacterial and light-activated oral care method developed by Finnish researchers and designed to be used in addition to regular tooth brushing. The device is suitable for everyone but is especially useful for individuals facing oral health challenges. Lumoral treatment also freshens breath. Lumoral's antimicrobial effect targets bacteria in the mouth that cause inflammation but does not affect other oral mucosal bacteria. (7)
Lumoral slows down plaque formation and significantly reduces the number of bacteria that cause periodontitis. Although bad breath can be caused by many factors, improving oral hygiene is a good first step. Acquiring a high-quality electric toothbrush is an easy way to improve oral health. Adding Lumoral treatment to your daily oral hygiene routine enhances the effectiveness of oral cleaning and also helps when traditional oral hygiene methods are insufficient. (7)
Using mouthwashes is a common way to try to control bad breath, but the problem with antibacterial mouthwashes is that they destroy not only harmful bacteria but also the microbiota that promote oral health. Many mouthwashes also contain alcohol, which has been linked to the development of oral cancer in scientific studies (8). It is also important to note that long-term use of antibacterial mouthwashes, such as chlorhexidine, can adversely affect taste and cause tooth discoloration.
Lumoral treatment differs from mouthwashes in that it does not contain alcohol and targets plaque.
Lumoral's antibacterial effect has been shown to be stronger than mouthwashes, but because it is targeted, it does not disturb the diversity of the oral microbiome. Since bacteria cannot develop resistance to Lumoral treatment, it is suitable for regular use.
– Lumoral helps keep harmful mouth bacteria in check. As a dentist, I have noticed with pleasure at my practice that those who use Lumoral regularly have less gum inflammation than those who do not, emphasizes Pirta Liljeqvist.
- Krespi YP, Shrime MG, Kacker A. The relationship between oral malodor and volatile sulfur compound-producing bacteria. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2006 Nov;135(5):671-6. doi: 10.1016/j.otohns.2005.09.036. PMID: 17071291.
- Newman T. Everything you need to know about bad breath.https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/166636
- Medical Journal Duodecim, 26.1.2022, Osmo Saarelma, Specialist in General Medicine, Bad breath (halitosis)
- González-Moles MÁ, Ramos-García P. State of Evidence on Oral Health Problems in Diabetic Patients: A Critical Review of the Literature. J Clin Med. 2021 Nov 18;10(22):5383. doi: 10.3390/jcm10225383. PMID: 34830663; PMCID: PMC8618619.
- Veeresha KL, Bansal M, Bansal V. Halitosis: A frequently ignored social condition. J Int Soc Prev Community Dent. 2011 Jan;1(1):9-13. doi: 10.4103/2231-0762.86374. PMID: 24478947; PMCID: PMC3894075.
- Wu, J., Cannon, R.D., Ji, P., Farella, M., Mei, L. (2020) Halitosis: prevalence, risk factors, sources, measurement and treatment – a review of the literature. Australian Dental Journal https://doi.org/10.1111/adj.12725
- Pakarinen, S.; Saarela, R.K.T.; Välimaa, H.; Heikkinen, A.M.; Kankuri, E.; Noponen, M.; Alapulli, H.; Tervahartiala, T.; Räisänen, I.T.; Sorsa, T.; Pätilä, T. Home-Applied Dual-Light Photodynamic Therapy in the Treatment of Stable Chronic Periodontitis (HOPE-CP)-Three-Month Interim Results. Dent. J. 2022, 10, 206. https://doi.org/10.3390/dj10110206
- Boffetta P, Hayes RB, Sartori S, et al. Mouthwash use and cancer of the head and neck: a pooled analysis from the International Head and Neck Cancer Epidemiology Consortium. Eur J Cancer Prev 2015; [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26275006; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4752930.