Halitosis! The Cause and the Cure Of Bad Breath

It’s Holiday Time! That means Uncle Stan will be coming for dinner. The fact that he moves his eyepatch randomly back and forth from one eye to the next is bad enough, but add to that the dragon’s breath and – you have a dilemma. Sticking him at the kids’ table didn’t work out so well the last time, on account of he gave them “strong” drinks. Mints and gum only provide a temporary fix by treating the stinky symptoms. The first thing we should do is examine…

Bad Breath – The Cause:

  • Gum Disease – Plaque and tartar are terms used to describe the residue of food particles and dead tissue which build up between teeth and the gums. If not removed, they can cause issues. If teeth are not brushed and flossed regularly, plaque becomes a medium bacteria that can lead to bad breath, gum bleeding, chronic oral infections, and even tooth loss.
  • Untreated Decay – This is when dental caries (or, as civilians like to call them, cavities) get out of hand, and teeth actually start to rot out of your head. This is a painful process in the later stages, and should be treated before things get this far. Fear of the dentist is the most common cause, and is mostly unfounded, given the state of modern dentistry today.
  • Dry Mouth -This is a condition known as “xerostomia.”  Most xerostomia is related to medication. More than 400 drugs can affect the salivary glands, not to mention tobacco, alcohol, drinks with caffeine, snoring and breathing with your mouth open (mouth breathers). Drugs for urinary incontinence, allergies, high blood pressure, depression, diarrhea, Parkinson’s disease, as well as any number of over-the-counter medications often cause dry mouth. Sip water regularly, try over-the-counter saliva substitutes, use a humidifier in your bedroom, pay greater attention to your teeth, and – close that flytrap!!
  • Old Fillings – If your dental fillings are deteriorating it can give a metallic taste. Over time everything breaks down, so the old silver mercury fillings corrode where they seal against the tooth. This will allow bacteria to infiltrate, and will in turn produce an offensive odor as decay sets in.
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) – Also known as Acid Reflux,GERD is a digestive disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach. If the LES does not form a tight seal, digestive acids move into the esophagus – where they don’t belong. Many people, including pregnant women, the obese, and folks over 50 suffer from heartburn or acid indigestion caused by GERD. Doctors believe that in some people, a condition called hiatal hernia may be the cause. In most cases, GERD can be relieved through diet and lifestyle changes; however, some people may require medication or surgery.
  • Bad Tonsils – Your tonsils are the two dangling lymphatic glands at the back of your throat that are just waiting to be a problem. Their job is to capture bacteria, and they do it so well that they are constantly becoming infected and inflamed. Most people have their tonsils removed at an early date, but for those who do not, “tonsil breath” is a distinct possibility. If you brush and floss regularly but your breath still has the disposition of a sulfur pit, it might pay to have them checked out. White bumps on the surface indicate deposits of bacteria that have moved right in and made themselves at home. It’s time to yank ’em like you’re starting a mower!
  • Sinus Breath – Post nasal drip, sinusitis, and cleft palate can all cause bacteria to multiply, and with bacteria you get – an odor.
  • Lung Breath – If the source of your bad breath originates in the lungs, then – you in trouble. This generally indicates a systemic condition that your toothbrush is just not going to reach. Cancer, cystic fibrosis, asthma, diabetes, kidney or liver disorders, all of these can produce a distinct odor. All we can do here is concentrate on the causes that we can do something about. Smoking: Wafting aromatic tobacco smoke don’t smell so good when it nestles into your lungs. Especially when you hawk up a loogie with enough force to knock over that marble coffee table. Drinking: 5% of the alcohol you drink is removed by the lungs, so naturally there’s going to be a stink. There are rumors that Hennigan’s (the no smell no tell) Scotch does not have an odor, but this has proven to be unfounded. Certain foods: Onions and garlic actually carry their smells through your digestive system, into your blood, and like alcohol, get released when you exhale. The only real cure is to not eat these things, or to wait them out.
  • Doctor Atkins – Ever since he attached his name to the Air Force Diet (“very low carbs”, not the one with “just beer and vitamins”), the name Dr. Atkins has been synonymous with weight loss. Just be aware that a low carb diet puts the body into a state of ketosiswhich will not only cause your breath to smell of burning fat, but the odor will also come right out through your pores. However, the loss of all your friends and acquaintances will be more than offset by finally getting into shape.

Bad Breath – The Cure:

The first thing to do is Call Us Today at 970 686-7858 and make that overdue appointment. We all know that it has been way too long since your last visit, otherwise we wouldn’t have to bug you like this. Removing all that built up plaque and tartar with a good cleaning will be a great first step! The next thing to do is to focus on prevention:

  • Brushing – After every meal if possible, at least twice a day otherwise.
  • Flossing – 35% of our tooth surface is between our teeth. Flossing is crucial in removing food particles from the crevices, where a toothbrush just cannot reach.
  • Brushing/scraping tongue – Yes, it sounds crazy. No, it doesn’t hurt. And yes, we are serious. Bacteria can actually work its way into the tongue’s surface and set up shop. Brushing out the tongue puts the kibosh on this activity.
  • Waterpik – It won’t replace floss (despite what they tell you), but it will do something valuable – remove particles and bacteria from under the gum line, a place where they like to breed.

Big things start from small beginnings…

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