Bad breath is not a subject most people like to talk about, right? While not exactly a life-or-death affliction, at the very least, bad breath can be an inhibiting embarrassment in social situations, and at the worst, a sign that there might be something medically wrong with you.
Unfortunately, wearing braces may contribute to bad breath. The main cause of bad breath is the presence of bacteria in your mouth – typically when you’ve been lax about brushing your teeth. When food particles remain lodged in your teeth, they decay and, well, create that unpleasant smell. But even when you’re diligent about brushing your teeth twice a day, if you’re wearing braces, that may not be enough to avoid bad breath. That’s because, with braces, bacteria can hide in the crevices in and around the braces’ brackets and wires. And left unflushed, that bacteria will cause an odour in your mouth.
Here are some tips to keep bad breath at bay while you’re wearing braces.
It’s not enough to just brush your teeth twice a day. You need to brush them right after
every meal (and even snacks). This regimen will help stop food particles from remaining behind your braces’ brackets and wires, and allowing bacteria to develop. (If actual brushing is impossible, at least rinse your mouth out with mouthwash or water.)
When brushing, make sure you go over your gums, the roof of your mouth, and
especially your tongue – it’s moist, soft tissue with tiny bumps is always a good breeding ground for bacteria.
Use toothpicks or dental picks. These can remove food particles from between the teeth
and gum line. But make sure to go gently around the braces’ brackets!
Use anti-bacterial and anti-microbial mouthwash products after meals. There so many of
them on the market to choose from, but your orthodontist may recommend one for you.
Water picks clean very well between braces and at the gum line. Their forceful jets of
water clean more thoroughly than regular toothbrush bristles. Plus, they leave your mouth feeling clean and refreshed.
You shouldn’t chew gum when you’re wearing braces to refresh your breath, but you can
certainly suck on some breath mints – just avoid biting on them.
Drink lots of water. Dry mouth is a good breeding ground for bacteria, and you may
experience it more frequently when wearing braces. Try drinking at least 1.5 litres of
water daily – it will not only help you keep hydrated, which is good for your general health, but it will also help with washing away any food particles stuck in your braces.
This one may be a little more painful if you’re a foodie, but avoid sugary foods and foods with strong smelling ingredients, such as onions and garlic. We all know onions and
garlic can give you bad breath, so use your discretion when chowing down on foodstuffs
with these ingredients. And sugar is to be avoided generally. It leads to tooth decay, and
poor dental health causes bad breath.
All these strategies may sound like a lot to do, but once you get into the habit of it, it becomes second nature. What is also important is that most of these tips should serve you well not only while you’re wearing braces, but well beyond this chapter in your life, keeping your oral health (and by extension, your general health), the best it can be. To make it even easier for yourself in the meantime, carry a travel kit with travel-sized toothbrush, mouthwash, toothpaste and all the other aids to keep your mouth bacteria-free. And see your orthodontist and dentist regularly for checkups and cleaning – these services are critical in helping you stay in tip-top shape dentally, and facing the world with fresh, clean breath.