Save Your Breath!

You may already have completed your spring-cleaning and organized your spring wardrobe, so why not view the new spring season as an opportunity to embark on a fresh oral hygiene program, too?

Halitosis (bad breath) is a common oral health concern. Whether one’s chronic bad breath (as opposed to temporary “morning breath,” or bad breath from garlic, onions or other odorous foods) is caused by dental hygiene issues or gastrointestinal problems, the culprit can usually be traced back to bacteria — the root of many dental problems. In fact, bacteria is directly linked to dental caries (cavities) and gum disease, as well as bad breath. Keeping excess bacteria in check is a continual process, beginning with proper dental hygiene.

It’s essential that you brush and floss your teeth daily in order to get rid of the food that can collect between your teeth, on your tongue and in and around your gums. If food particles are not removed, they can decay, leaving an unpleasant odor in your mouth. Because oral bacteria excrete volatile sulfur compounds, it’s essential to continually remove those bacteria from your teeth, gums and tongue. In fact, stick out your tongue. If you see a white layer of plaque at the back of your tongue, you can be sure it’s creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria — and therefore bad breath — to flourish.

Persistent bad breath can be a sign of gum disease. If you notice you have red, swollen or tender gums that bleed when you brush your teeth, or gaps in-between your gums and your teeth, you may be experiencing the first signs of gum disease. Talk to us about steps you can take to halt or even reverse the indications of this preventable disease.

Dry mouth can trigger bad breath when the production of saliva, known as “nature’s mouthwash” because it washes away bacteria and sulfur compounds in the mouth, slows down. Dieting, fasting, dehydration and certain medications can slow down the production of saliva, as can salivary gland problems or continuous breathing through the mouth. In addition to bad breath, dry mouth can also put patients at risk for cavities and gum disease. When saliva is not present to flush away foods, food particles might adhere to teeth and begin the decay process.

As mentioned earlier, what you eat can cause bad breath, but what you don’t eat can also leave a bad smell in your mouth. For example, low-carb diets force the body to burn stored fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. As excess fat gets burned away, the body releases ill-smelling chemicals called ketones through the breath and urine. The high-protein component of low-carb diets can also contribute to halitosis from the breakdown of food particles that produce sulfur compounds.

Tobacco use, a respiratory tract infection, chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, gastrointestinal disturbances, and liver or kidney ailments are also some possible sources of bad breath. If we determine that your mouth is healthy and that your oral hygiene is on track, we may suggest a visit to your family doctor to determine alternate medical causes of bad breath.

If you have any concerns at all about your breath, please don’t be embarrassed to ask us for suggestions.