Posts for tag: bad breath
Most of us have no clue how the ancient holiday tradition of kissing under the mistletoe originated—but it sure doesn't stop us from keeping the tradition alive! Yet although eager to join a certain someone under the hanging twig, you still might hesitate to apply the old smackeroo out of fear your breath isn't as fresh as it should be.
Bad breath has tormented us humans long before we started osculating (kissing) under trimmings of viscum album (the scientific name for mistletoe). Our resulting discomfort has inspired a myriad of remedies, from ancient Egyptian toothpastes containing natron (also used in embalming mummies) to 19th Century American breath mints made of ingredients like cardamom, essence of rose and licorice root.
Today, we're much better at relieving common bad breath because we've uncovered its primary source: bits of food and mucus accompanied by oral bacteria on undisturbed areas the mouth, particularly the tongue. As the debris interacts with the bacteria, it releases chemical compounds called VSCs (volatile sulfur compounds) that emit a classic rotten egg smell.
The key then is to remove the source of these VSCs. You might think that means doing a better job of brushing and flossing, and you're right. But it can involve more.
Keeping your tongue clean. Since the tongue is a prime collecting point for debris and bacteria, it makes sense to keep it clean. That might simply mean brushing its surface when you brush your teeth. You might, however, benefit from using a tongue scraper if you have more stubborn accumulations.
Maintaining your dentures. These and other dental appliances can accumulate food debris that if not removed can cause a “stink.” You should clean dentures daily using a denture cleaner or mild antibacterial soap and then rinse them off thoroughly. It also helps to take them out at bedtime.
Seeking dental care. Another source of bad breath could be tooth decay or gum disease, or even older dental work in need of repair. Treating these and other conditions (like an oral yeast infection) not only improves your dental health, it could do wonders for your breath.
There are also other sources of foul breath unrelated to the mouth—and some can be serious diseases like diabetes, cancer or lung infections. If your chronic bad breath doesn't respond to your hygiene efforts, it's a good idea to get checked medically.
Now as to holiday traditions, we can't help you maneuver your prospective sweetheart under the mistletoe with you—you're on your own, pal (or gal). But by following these tips for sound oral care, we're sure you'll have the “fresh breath” confidence to follow through from there.
Even the sweetest children don’t always have sweet-smelling breath. If your child has persistent bad breath, it may be for one of the following reasons:
POOR ORAL HYGIENE HABITS. Bad breath often results from bacteria on the teeth and tongue that is not effectively removed during brushing and flossing.
- Tip: To encourage thorough cleaning as children are developing their oral hygiene habits, try handheld flossers that are colorful and easy to use, sing or play music to make brushing time fun, or try an electric toothbrush with a timer or a tooth-brushing app that keeps kids brushing for a full two minutes.
PLAQUE BUILDUP, TOOTH DECAY AND GUM DISEASE: Plaque, a sticky bacterial biofilm, can build up on tooth surfaces, between the teeth and under the gum line and can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. These conditions may result in bad breath.
- Tip: Stay on top of your child’s oral hygiene at home, and keep up with regular dental visits for professional cleanings and checkups.
POST-NASAL DRIP: This common cause of foul-smelling breath in children results when excessive mucus is produced and drips down the back of the throat.
- Tip: Schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician to determine and treat the cause.
MOUTH BREATHING. Breathing through the mouth instead of the nose can cause a dry mouth. This can lead to increased oral bacteria, which can cause bad breath. If children breathe through the mouth all the time, not just because of a temporary cold or allergies, your child is at greater risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
- Tip: If your child is a chronic mouth breather, schedule a dental visit so we can check for any adverse effects on dental health. Note that over time, habitual mouth breathing may lead to poor alignment of the teeth. An ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist can treat problems with tonsils, adenoids and sinuses — common causes of mouth breathing.
FOREIGN OBJECT IN THE NOSE. It wouldn’t be the first time a child has stuck a pea or other small object up their nose â?? or their sibling’s nose — only to find that it won’t come back out. A foreign body in the nasal passage can cause infection and lead to bad breath.
- Tip: Don’t try to remove the object at home, as part of it may remain in the nasal passage. A medical professional will have the right equipment to dislodge the object more comfortably.
MEDICATION. Children who take antibiotics for a long time may develop a fungal infection (thrush) in the mouth. Other medications can cause bad breath due to the way they break down in the body.
- Tip: Call your pharmacist if you have a question about medications and bad breath.
MEDICAL CONDITION. Infections of the throat, sinus or tonsils can cause bad breath, as can more serious health conditions.
- Tip: If your child’s breath is unpleasant for an extended period of time, get it checked out by a health professional.
If you are concerned about your child’s breath, schedule a visit. We are happy to remind your child of proper brushing techniques and check for other problems that need to be addressed.
For more on young children’s oral health, read “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health” and “Why See a Pediatric Dentist?”
Treating bad breath is big business. Just check your local drug store or supermarket and you'll find a mind-numbing array of mints, gums, mouthwashes, sprays, strips and other products that promise to sweeten your breath and make you (or your mouth at least) irresistible. But most of these products only mask halitosis (from the Latin “halitus” – exhalation, and Greek “osis” – disease) and some even contain ingredients, like sugar, that contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. In most cases, for enduring, healthful results, nothing beats a trusty toothbrush, toothpaste and floss, used faithfully and correctly, along with periodic dental checks and cleanings.
Oral bacteria are the number one reason for noxious breath. More than 600 types inhabit our mouth, and some of them emit awful odors — predominantly volatile sulfur compounds characterized by a “rotten egg” smell) — as they consume remnants of food trapped in our mouth. Brushing and flossing regularly, especially after eating, can dislodge food trapped between teeth (interdental) and under the gums (subgingival), depriving microbes of a ready-made meal. It also disrupts the buildup of sticky plaque (microbial “biofilms”) where odor-causing germs can flourish.
When cleaning your mouth, pay special attention to the back of the tongue. It is the primary location for generating halitosis because it is drier and less efficiently cleansed by saliva and normal oral activity than the front. Our office can instruct you on proper oral hygiene including the gentle use of a tongue scraper or brush.
Sometimes more involved periodontal techniques such as scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) are called for; antibiotics may be useful in targeting the offending microbes. If tooth decay and/or periodontal (or gum) disease is contributing to halitosis appropriate treatment is necessary.
Remember that foul breath is just a symptom of some underlying condition. If diligent oral care at home doesn't do the trick, our office can help you get to the root of the problem and determine the appropriate therapy.
If you would like more information about halitosis and ways to prevent or treat it, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bad Breath.”
We are often asked about the role the tongue plays with bad breath or halitosis, as it is known medically. The truth is that everyone will experience it at some point in life; however, there can be a number of reasons for its cause. Some of these include:
- Consuming odorous foods and/or drinks such as coffee, onions and garlic. This is usually just a temporary condition that can be resolved by brushing and flossing your teeth and using mouthwash. Also consider chewing gum containing xylitol, a sugar-free gum that both promotes saliva flow and reduces tooth decay.
- Diabetes, a disease caused by a faulty metabolism of sugar, as well as diseases of the liver and kidneys can also cause bad breath. Be sure to always let all your health care professionals know if you have any unusual symptoms or you been diagnosed with any of these or other illnesses.
- Poor oral hygiene, which causes gingivitis (gum disease), is one of the most common reasons for bad breath. And if your gum disease is progressive, you could eventually lose your teeth.
- If you use tobacco and regularly drink large amounts of alcohol, you are dramatically increasing the likelihood of having halitosis.
- And lastly, if you do not drink enough water to maintain proper hydration, you can develop bad breath.
There are more than 600 types of bacteria found in the average mouth, many of which can cause bad breath. And the back of the tongue is where these bacteria typically produce Volatile Sulfur Compounds (VSC), the culprits responsible for the worst odors attributed to halitosis.
As for cleaning your tongue, there are two common methods. You can use your toothbrush to brush your tongue, or you can use a tongue-scraper. The latter can generally be purchased at a drug or discount store. The keys to remember are that a clean, healthy tongue should be pink in color and not have a yellow or brownish coating.
Having someone tell you that you have bad breath can be humiliating, but it can also be a sign that you need to see your dentist. Bad breath (or halitosis) can be a sign of an underlying dental or health problem, so before you run out and stock up on breath mints, make an appointment with our office. Using breath fresheners will only disguise the problem and not treat the root cause.
It's important to remember that if you have bad breath, you're not alone — it's the third most common reason people seek a dental consult. We use a systematic approach to determine the cause of your halitosis and offer a solution.
Causes: Ninety percent of mouth odors come from mouth itself — either from the food you eat or bacteria that may be present. Most unpleasant odors originate from proteins trapped in the mouth that are processed by oral bacteria. When left on the tongue, these bacteria can cause an unpleasant smell. Dry mouth, sinus problems, diet and poor oral hygiene can also cause bad breath. In rare cases, a medical condition may be the cause.
Treatment: The best solution will depend on determining the real cause of your halitosis. If bad breath emanates from the mouth, it most commonly is caused by gum disease or even tooth decay, which need to be treated to correct the problem. If halitosis is of systemic (general body) origin, a more detailed examination might be needed from a physician. But the solution may also be as simple as demonstrating how to effectively remove bacterial plaque from your teeth, or offer instruction on proper tongue cleaning. If the cause is gum disease, we may suggest a deep cleaning and possible antibiotic therapy.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions you may have regarding bad breath. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bad Breath: More Than Just Embarrassing.”