National Fresh Breath Week – 6 to 12 February


The first week of February is national Fresh Breath Week in order to highlight how to get your mouth into mint condition to be ready for romance this Valentine’s Day. In a South African survey*, three in five people said that bad breath topped their list as the most unappealing thing a date or partner could have, far worse than dirty nails, stained teeth or bad skin.


Professor Mel Rosenberg, from the Department of Microbiology at Tel Aviv University, has researched the diagnosis and treatment of bad breath for more than two decades. He says identifying this seriously embarrassing condition should not be left to chance and recommends asking an adult family member, a close friend or your dentist if you are a potential offender. Ask anyone you trust, just as long as it’s not your date!


So how does one prepare for that eagerly-anticipated Valentine’s kiss?


Brush twice a day, after breakfast and before going to bed at night. It should take at least two minutes to brush properly, cleaning each tooth with a circular motion.  Hold the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to clean gently under the gum line. Don’t brush too hard as this can damage gums. Use a soft, small toothbrush and replace it at least every three months.


Clean in-between the teeth. It is absolutely essential to remove plaque where brushing does not reach, as this is where many dental problems and bad breath can start. About two-thirds of people don’t floss, either because they find it awkward or don’t have time, but with the different interdental tools available today – such as GUM Flosbrush Automatic, which has floss on a self-dispensing handle, and GUM Soft-Picks flossing has never been easier.


Don’t neglect your tongue; according to Professor Rosenberg, the back of the tongue is the most 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. The back of the tongue provides ideal conditions for the bacteria that cause bad breath to thrive,” says Dr Rosenberg. He recommends using a plastic tongue scraper to gently sweep the mucus and debris away. He also says that gargling with an alcohol-free mouthwash as a final step in a daily oral care routine will help combat bad breath.


Other tips for keeping breath fresh include: eating a wholesome breakfast and chewing gum after a meal or when the mouth is dry. Because the bacteria that cause bad breath thrive in a dry mouth, you should drink plenty of water to maintain good hydration which helps produce saliva. This is something for South Africans to remember as it’s hot during the February month of love.


For fresh breath and oral care advice visit and take the online Kiss-O-Meter test, or speak to your dentist or oral hygienist

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