A Breath of Fresh Air


imagesSummer brings longer days, weekend barbecues, and July 4th fireworks – at Mitchell Dentistry, it also brings a bevy of dental appointments with our patients who are college students. Home on summer break, they can catch up on all their obligations at home, including taking care of their oral health. For most, an exam, x-rays and a professional cleaning are all they need to go on their way. Others have more serious needs.  One issue that comes up time and time again is the question of bad breath, or halitosis. Whether a summer romance has blossomed, or time is spent in close proximity to their friends, this is a concern shared by many teens and college students. The good news is that bad breath can often be prevented with some simple steps.

Bad breath is caused by odor-producing bacteria that grow in the mouth. If you do not brush and floss regularly, bacteria accumulate on the bits of food left in your mouth and between your teeth. The sulfur compounds released by these bacteria make your breath smell.

Certain foods, especially ones like garlic and onions that contain pungent oils, can contribute to bad breath because the oils are carried to your lungs and out through your mouth. And in addition to several other negative effects, smoking is also a major cause of bad breath.

Based on our experience here at Mitchell Dentistry, and some helpful tips from the University of Florida’s School of Dentistry, here are some mythbusters that might help freshen your breath.

Myth #1: Mouthwash will make bad breath go away.

Mouthwash only gets rid of bad breath temporarily. If you do use mouthwash, look for an alcohol-free, antiseptic (kills the germs that cause bad breath) and plaque-reducing one with a seal from the American Dental Association (ADA). Also, remember to ask us for recommendations.

Myth #2: As long as you brush your teeth, you shouldn’t have bad breath.

The truth is that most people only brush their teeth for 30 to 45 seconds, which just does not suffice. To thoroughly clean all the surfaces of your teeth, you should brush for at least two minutes at least twice a day. Remember to brush your tongue, too — bacteria love to congregate there. It’s equally important to floss because brushing alone won’t remove harmful plaque and food particles that become stuck between your teeth and gums.


Mitchell Dentistry emphasizes the importance of brushing your tongue to prevent bad breath.

Myth #3: If you breathe into your hand, you’ll know when you have bad breath.

We all do this, right? However, when you breathe, you don’t use your throat the same way you do when you talk. When you talk, you tend to bring out the odors from the back of your mouth (where bad breath originates), which simply breathing doesn’t do. Also, because we tend to get used to our own smells, it’s hard for a person to tell if he or she has bad breath.

If you’re concerned about bad breath, make sure you’re taking care of your teeth and mouth properly. Some sugar-free gums and mints can temporarily mask odors, too.

If you brush and floss properly and visit our office for regular cleanings, but your bad breath persists, you may have a medical problem like sinusitis or gum disease – so please call us if you suspect a problem.  We are here to answer your questions, and help you take care of it.

Enjoy your summer!

All the best,

Dr. Jim