As Valentine’s Day approaches, here’s a few thoughts on keeping those lips ready for a romantic kiss and curing some of the less attractive problems associated with our mouths.
Bad breath can be caused by smoking and eating foods such as garlic and onions and by drinking coffee. Some medical conditions such as dry mouth or throat, nose or chest infections can also cause it.
To avoid bad breath try to:
- Keep your mouth clean: brush your teeth twice a day, floss and use anti-bacterial mouth wash
- Chew sugar free gum rather than eating mints
- Visit your dentist regularly, at least once a year
- If you have persistent problems despite following the above tips, visit your GP
Most ulcers are caused by damaging the inside of your mouth by biting the inside of your cheek, or from a sharp tooth or filing. They are not usually caused by infection, so can’t be spread by kissing. Most mild mouth ulcers will heal without treatment. To help ulcers heal quickly, try:
- Using a soft toothbrush when brushing your teeth
- Choose foods which are easier to chew, and avoid scratchy, hard foods such as crusty bread
- If you think your ulcers are stress related, try a relaxing activity such as swimming or yoga to help you unwind
If your ulcers don’t clear up after a few days, have a chat with your local pharmacist to see if they can recommend something.
A ‘furry tongue’ is generally caused by poor oral hygiene. Cleaning your teeth thoroughly, using mouth wash and visiting your dentist regularly will help with this. It can also be caused by digestive problems. If you suffer persistently from a furry tongue, or if your tongue appears to be an usual colour, consult your GP.
Cold sores are caused by a virus and therefore can be passed from person to person through close contact. Symptoms of a cold sore developing are a tingly or itchy sensation around the mouth. Most cold sores will disappear within seven to ten days without treatment. Antiviral creams can be used to speed up the healing time, but must be applied at the first sign of the cold sore. There are also creams available to help ease pain or itching caused by the cold sores – ask your pharmacist for advice.
Gum disease is usually caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth. If teeth are not brushed properly the build-up of bacteria and scale can irritate the gums and cause them to become inflamed. Practising good oral hygiene and visiting the dentist can help prevent gum disease from developing.