Preventing Bad Breath

Q: What can I do to prevent bad breath? Do mints, gums, breath sprays and mouth rinses work?

Be assured that you are not the only one who struggles with this condition. Many products found in commercial markets simply try to control oral malodor by masking it with minty and fruity scents. Mint candies, gums and most mouthwashes are not powerful enough on their own to combat the foul smelling volatile sulfur compounds (the molecules primarily responsible for oral malodor). At this moment I'm sure that many of you are breathing into your hand to see if you may be one of those affected individuals. Don't bother. One problem associated with bad breath is the inability to self-diagnose. A person with a normal sense of smell usually becomes desensitized to its own stimulants. The majority of individuals with halitosis are often unaware that they even have bad breath unless someone around them happens to mention it. So what can be done? The most effective way to manage oral malodor is by maintaining proper oral hygiene, regular dental cleanings, and diligent brushing of the tongue.

Remember, your tongue is the most retentive surface in your mouth, and is quite adept at harboring bacteria within its Velcro-like surface. Other oral factors that can cause bad breath include food impacted between teeth, faulty restorations, throat infections, food and bacteria caught within the crypts of your tonsils, and unclean dentures.

Some non-oral causes may include: post nasal drip, diabetes mellitus, kidney failure, infections of the upper respiratory tract, and, of course, foods such as garlic and onions, which are rich sources of volatile sulfur compounds. Reduced salivation, or dry mouth, has been shown to make one's halitosis more readily perceived.

Dry mouth resulting from mouth breathing or as a side effect of many medications can also be a common cause of bad breath. Sugar-free sour candies may help to stimulate the flow of your saliva, and walking around with a water bottle will help keep your mouth moist. Remember, mints and mouth rinses will mask odor only for a brief duration. If you want to eliminate bad breath, consult with your dentist.

Q: What causes bad breath?

Bad breath has a variety of causes, including:
• Bacterial infections
• Medications and medical conditions
• Postnasal drip
• Poor hygiene (yep, you have to brush teeth more frequently)

In most cases, bad breath comes from the gums and tongue. Some bacteria in your mouth may produce compounds that result in an odor. Certain foods, such as garlic and onions, not only leave lasting odors in your mouth, but are also absorbed into the bloodstream. The odors are then expelled from the lungs. Until these foods are eliminated from the body, mouthwash, chewing gum, and toothpaste can only mask the odors on the breath.

For some people, a dry mouth causes bad breath. Dry mouth can result from taking antihistamines for allergies or a cold, or from antidepressants. It can also result from localized infections, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbances, or liver or kidney ailments.

The postnasal drip that streams down the back of your throat during colds, allergies, or sinus infections can result in bad breath. Sometimes, tiny food nuggets lodge in the crypts of your tonsils or on the tongue and cause a foul odor.

But most bad breath is the result of poor oral hygiene. Basically, that means you don't brush or floss frequently enough. How many times have you heard that from your dentist?
Bacteria that build up on the back of your tongue or in between your teeth are the main culprits. Certain types of bacteria love to breed on the tongue, in the crevices between your teeth, or in untreated cavities. Finally -- yet most important -- tobacco products cause bad breath. If you smoke tobacco or chew smokeless tobacco, ask you dentist or your primary health care professional for tips on kicking the habit.

Tonsillolith and Bad Breath
What is tonsillolith?

A tiny stone (calculus) in the tonsils. Such stones are found within little pockets (crypts) in the tonsils. These pockets typically form in chronic recurrent tonsillitis, and they harbor bacteria. Tonsilloliths are foul smelling because they tend to contain high quantities of sulfur compounds. When crushed, they give off a characteristic rotten-egg smell and can cause bad breath. Tonsilloliths may also give a person the sense that something is caught in the back of the throat. Also known as tonsil stone.

Q: How Can I Tell if I Have Bad Breath?

Believe it or not, the most common method doesn't work to diagnose your own bad breath. Many teens think that they can blow into their hands and smell their breath. That simply doesn't work. Instead, do this. Lick the back of your hand, let the saliva dry, then take a whiff. What you smell there is your true breath. Another good way? If you have a trusted friend, ask them to smell your breath. Parents can also tell you if you ask.

brushing teeth
Q: How Do I Control My Bad Breath?

Here are some tips for controlling bad breath.
• Practice good oral hygiene. Brush and floss after every meal, or at least twice a day. Brush for two minutes each time. Proper brushing also involves brushing your tongue, cheeks, and the roof of your mouth to remove bacteria and food particles. Flossing removes bacteria, plaque, and food particles that may be trapped between teeth. Many dentists and dental hygienists also recommend cleaning your tongue with a tongue scraper, a plastic tool that scrapes away bacteria that builds up on the tongue. Mouthwashes and rinses can also temporarily relieve bad breath.

• Remember your retainer. If you wear a retainer or have some kind of removable appliance, clean it thoroughly each time you brush. If you have braces, take extra time and care to clean all the nooks and crannies. Your orthodontist is a good source of information about keeping your braces clean.

Oral cleaning system

• Oral-B ProfessionalCare 8900 DLX OxyJet Center Oral irrigator with innovative micro-bubble technology.
The Oral-B ProfessionalCare 8900 DLX OxyJet Center combines the Oral-B ProfessionalCare 7850 DLX power toothbrush and an oral irrigator with innovative micro-bubble technology. The OxyJet irrigator mixes air and water, then pressurizes it to form millions of micro-bubbles designed to attack plaque bacteria.
• Helps you brush for two minutes
• Can be used for site specific oral medicament delivery
• Ideal for: Bridges, implants and fixed orthodic appliances

• Chew sugar-free gum. Chewing sugar-free gum helps stimulate saliva. This helps cleanse the teeth and gums and prevents dry mouth.

• Stop using tobacco. Get help and kick the habit.

• Use an antibacterial mouthwash. Gargling once or twice a day is good for teeth and gums and kills bad-breath bacteria in your mouth.Use corega tablets to clean mouth guards and dentures.

Q: Where Does My Dentist Fit in?

While there is no dental specialty that deals just with bad breath, your family dentist should be able to address your concerns about oral hygiene. Visit your oral hygienist at least every 6 months or if you tend to have lots of calculus build up go for a clean every 4 months .The calculus on your teeth are bacteria that will cause very bad breath .In some cases you may have a tooth that are decayed.

If your dentist determines that your mouth is healthy, he or she may refer you to a general physician or a specialist to determine the cause of your bad breath. Your doctor can tell you if you are taking medications that can cause dry mouth, or if you have other medical conditions that may make you more likely to have dry mouth and bad breath.

Seeing your dentist regularly (at least every six months) and following his or her advice will reduce or eliminate any bad breath problems you may have. Then you won't have to worry about those potential "close encounters."

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