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‘Til breath do us part

If romance is on your mind this February you may be better off investing in your oral health than flowers or chocolates. Bad breath is possibly the ultimate turn off – three in five South Africans surveyed said it was the most unappealing thing a date or partner could have, far worse than dirty nails, stained teeth or bad skin.


Many people believe halitosis is related to digestion, however according to Professor Mel Rosenberg, a global authority on oral malodour, “Approximately 85 to 90% of bad breath originates in the mouth and is usually a result of poor oral hygiene.”

Fortunately, improving your oral routine may be simpler than sweeping your partner off their feet. IVOhealth's oral hygiene advisor Dirna Grobbelaar explains an easy three step habit for a happier mouth. “The first step is better brushing,” she says. “Teeth should be brushed twice a day for at least two minutes.” Because many people ‘skip' on the two minute brushing time she recommends using a Philips Sonicare rechargeable brush which has a built-in timer and is clinically proven to remove more plaque than a manual brush.





Step two is cleaning between the teeth and under the gum line, something many people neglect; about two-thirds of South Africans admit they don't floss regularly, stating that they find it awkward or don't have time. Grobbelaar says that with the variety of interdental tools available these days – from GUM Soft-Picks to floss handles and the Philips Sonicare AirFloss - everyone should be able to find something that suits them. If in doubt ask your oral hygienist what method would work best for you.

The third area needing attention is the back of the tongue which, according to Professor Rosenberg, is a frequently overlooked source of bad breath. “In about seven out of ten cases halitosis is caused by bacteria breaking down postnasal drip, food debris and cells accumulated on the tongue, where conditions are ideal for the bacteria to thrive,” he says. Grobbelaar suggests using a plastic tongue scraper to gently sweep the mucus and debris away. “A final swish with an alcohol-free mouthwash such as Dentyl Active will help cleanse the whole mouth, including the tongue,” she adds.

Grobbelaar also recommends having a professional cleaning by an oral hygienist every six months and a dental check-up at least once a year. “Prevention is always better than cure.”

When you are confident your breath is fresh you may be lucky enough to enjoy another tooth-friendly activity; kissing stimulates saliva flow which in turn cleanses the mouth. So enjoy some serious smooching this Valentine's Day - it can actually be good for your oral health!

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