Fighting Bad Breath with Braces or Clear Aligners

Bad breath is never a good look, but if you have braces or clear aligners, you may be extra vulnerable to this embarrassing issue. At Stellar Family Orthodontics in Mukilteo and Mill Creek, Washington, Dr. Chad Carver and his orthodontic team have plenty of tips and tricks to help you conquer bad breath with braces or Invisalign®.

But first: Why is bad breath so common with braces? Do braces actually cause bad breath? These are just a few questions we’re going to answer today.

What causes bad breath?

Bad breath, or halitosis, is an unpleasant odor that occurs when you exhale. While it typically goes away after you brush, floss, and rinse your mouth out, bad breath can indicate an underlying condition, like tooth decay or gum disease.

In most cases, bad breath is caused by poor dental hygiene or eating pungent foods. The most common culprits are foods containing high amounts of garlic or onions. 

You may also notice that you have bad breath when you’re dehydrated. Saliva washes away leftover food particles, debris, and bacteria. When you don’t have enough water in your body to produce saliva, it can lead to bad breath.

Do braces cause bad breath?

While braces themselves don’t cause bad breath, they do make it easier for bacteria and plaque — a sticky film of bacteria — to fester in your mouth.

Braces are fixed to your teeth with brackets and wires. They can be difficult to clean properly, leaving plenty of nooks and crannies for old food particles to hide. If food gets caught in your braces and is left there, your breath will start to smell pungent.

How can I prevent bad breath with braces?

If you often have bad breath with braces, there are a few steps you can take to keep your breath fresh:

Buy the right floss.

The team at Stellar Family Orthodontics recommends the Platypus Flosser® for braces. This patented orthodontic flossing device has a special structure that requires no threading on your part, making it easy to floss with braces.

Brush every bracket.

Brushing every bracket may feel time-consuming, but it’s worth the effort if you have braces. Paying close attention to each bracket ensures no debris is left behind when you brush.

Use mouthwash.

A simple swish of mouthwash can quickly kill germs and bad breath-causing bacteria. When combined with regular brushing and flossing, mouthwash is an effective tool for eliminating bad breath.

Does Invisalign cause bad breath?

Invisalign is a system of custom-made clear aligners that mold to the exact shape of your teeth. They’re translucent and removable, so other people can’t tell when you’re wearing them. Because clear aligners aren’t fixed to your teeth, it’s easy to think they won’t cause bad breath. 

Like braces, Invisalign itself doesn’t cause bad breath. Unfortunately, if you already have food particles, bacteria, and plaque in your teeth, clear aligners can trap them inside and lead to an unpleasant odor.

Common reasons why you may have bad breath with Invisalign are:

You’re forgetting to clean your aligners.

It’s very important to clean your Invisalign aligners. If you don’t, bacteria and food particles can fester inside, leading to bad breath, tooth decay, gum disease, and more.

You aren’t brushing and flossing after meals.

Dr. Carver recommends brushing and flossing your teeth after every meal to prevent bad breath and tooth decay. This ensures that your teeth and gums are always clean when you put your aligners back in your mouth.

You keep eating and drinking while wearing your aligners.

Invisalign is so comfortable and discreet that you might forget you’re wearing aligners. But there’s a reason you must remove Invisalign before eating and drinking anything but water. When you chew with Invisalign, food particles can become trapped between your teeth and your aligners.

You have dry mouth.

There’s an adjustment period when you first try Invisalign. You may find yourself opening your mouth more often and forgetting to drink water. This can lead to dry mouth if you’re not careful. That’s why it’s important to stay hydrated when you have clear aligners.

Keeping your braces and clear aligners clean is essential when you’re straightening your teeth. For more tips on how to fight bad breath with braces and Invisalign, call Stellar Family Orthodontics or schedule an appointment online today!