Advice site LifeHacker is expanding its video production with a new series of self-help videos focused on simple life problems. First on its list is advice for tackling bad breath, which has some good points, but also some weaknesses.

Good Advice

The LifeHacker bad breath video is right to focus on the role of bacteria in making bad breath. You have to control bacteria if you want to control bad breath.

Dehydration is a major contributor to bad breath because when you’re dehydrated you have less saliva, which is your natural antibiotic mouth rinse. Good oral hygiene is also key to controlling bad breath. This means cleaning your mouth thoroughly on your own (including brushing, flossing, rinsing, and scraping your tongue), but also making your regular dental checkups.

If you don’t regularly get professional cleanings, tartar can grow in your mouth, providing shelter for oral bacteria and trapping food particles.

The advice about testing your bad breath is good (though maybe we’ll be using a bad breath meter in the near future). It’s important to check on the progress of your efforts to make sure you’re really doing a good job.

Not So Good Advice

But the video also includes some misleading advice. Although it’s good to keep your mouth clean, it’s not a good idea to brush and floss after every meal. Brushing too often can lead to erosion of your dental enamel. It can also irritate your gums, as can too much flossing. Irritated gums can pull away from your teeth, creating pockets where bacteria accumulate, making the practice counterproductive. Do floss if you have food caught in your teeth, but, otherwise, save the practice for your nightly cleaning.

Instead, clean your teeth by eating crunchy fruits and vegetables and rinsing. Crunchy fruits and vegetables can remove other foods from your mouth. Don’t use mouthwash for rinsing too often. Although this has antibacterial properties, most mouthwashes contain alcohol, which can dehydrate your mouth. Again, this is counterproductive. If you do rinse with mouthwash, follow up with water.

Resistant Bad Breath

If you follow these steps and find that bad breath persists, you may have gum disease or an infected tooth. These require professional attention to remove the bacterial colonies and restore your oral health — as well as eliminate bad breath.

If you are concerned about bad breath, especially persistent bad breath, please call (803) 781-9090 for an appointment with a Columbia, SC dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry.