Bad Breath Solutions
Please Note: The information contained herein is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended and should not be construed as the delivery of medical care. Persons requiring diagnosis or treatment or with specific questions are urged to contact their local health care provider for appropriate care.
Discover How To Prevent And Eliminate Bad Breath
Millions of people suffer with embarrassing bad breath. The good news is that with proper understanding and proper dental care bad breath can be virtually eliminated! Bad breath (halitosis) usually originates from one of two sources: (1) certain foods we eat or (2) bacteria in our mouths that feed on left over food particles.
We eat a meal and then suffer with embarrassing bad breath later. The culprits - certain foods like garlic and cabbage, which contain sulfur compounds. When liberated these sulfur compounds cause breath to smell bad.
This liberation of sulfur compounds occurs as foods are digested. The sulfur compounds are absorbed from the digestive system into the bloodstream and carried to the lungs. Here they are eliminated by the lungs in the air that we exhale giving us bad breath!
How can you get rid of this type of bad breath? One option is to avoid the foods that cause bad breath such as cabbage and onions.
Alternatively, you can use one of several new products on the market, which attack and neutralize the sulfur compounds while they are in the blood.
Bacteria - The Cause Of Persistent Bad Breath
While certain foods cause temporary bad breath, persistent bad breath is almost always caused by bacteria, which live in our mouths. Did you know that over 170 different types of bacteria call your mouth home?
Bacteria feed on bits of food left on teeth after meals. Ungrateful guests, these bacteria create volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) as a result of their feasting. These volatile sulfur compounds give breath its foul odor.
Oxygen is fatal to many of these bacteria. To escape, these bacteria hide in places where oxygen cannot reach - under plaque and food debris, in the spaces between the teeth and gums, and in the deep crevices of the tongue.
Proper dental hygiene is crucial to eliminating bad breath.
Brushing and flossing:
- Remove much of the bacteria in the mouth so they cannot produce volatile sulfur compounds
- Remove the layer of plaque, food debris, and dead cells, which protect bacteria from oxygen
- Remove the leftover microscopic food particles which bacteria use to create odorous sulfur particles
How Can You Tell If You Have Bad Breath?
Its almost impossible for you to tell if your breath smells. Your body becomes accustomed to its own odors. Furthermore, a large amount of foul breath is created at the back of the mouth and is expelled outward only as we are talk. Consequently, cupping your hands to your nose to smell exhaled air or licking and then smelling your wrist do not work.
How can you tell if your breath offends? Many dentists measure breath odor using an instrument called a halimeter. The patient blows into a straw-like tube connected to the halimeter and the machine detects the levels of volatile sulfur compounds in the breath. The more volatile sulfur compounds present the worse the bad breath.
The next best way to detect bad breath is to simply ask a trusted friend or loved one if your breath offends.
The Tongue - Safe Haven For Bacteria
The finding that odor-causing bacteria reside on the tongue represents a major advancement in the treatment of bad breath. In fact, as much as 50% of the bacteria within the mouth can be found here! The tongue is a lush velvet carpet in which bacteria can escape the wrath of the toothbrush and dental floss. In many countries it has been a long-standing practice to use a device called a tongue cleaner (also called a tongue scraper) to gently clean the tongue but the importance of this procedure is just being felt here in the United States.
During each tooth brushing use one of several commercially available tongue cleaners to clean your tongue free of bacteria. What you will scrape off is a whitish layer of bacteria, plaque, and food debris. This simple procedure can greatly improve the condition of your breath.
Saliva - Nature's Mouthwash
When battling bad breath saliva is our friend. A dry mouth creates the perfect environment for odor causing bacteria. Saliva serves as nature's mouthwash by keeping the mouth moist, washing away bacteria, and dissolving foul smelling volatile sulfur compounds.
Conditions that reduce saliva flow or which dry our mouths can therefore lead to bad breath. Morning breath, for example, results from reduced saliva flow that occurs as we sleep.
Dieting, fasting, or talking for long periods of time reduce saliva flow and contribute to bad breath. Certain medications, alcohol consumption, and breathing through the nose during exercise also dry the mouth contributing to the problem. How do you make sure your saliva flow is sufficient and that your mouth stays moist? Saliva flow increases when we eat or drink. If you are dieting, fasting, or talking for long periods drink water to stimulate saliva flow and moisten your mouth. The water will also wash away food and bacteria that contribute to bad breath.
Did you know that most breath mints work not by masking odor but by stimulating saliva flow? Placing a drop of lemon juice on the tip of your tongue or chewing sugarless gum also stimulates saliva flow.
The Truth About Over The Counter Mouthwashes
People often combat chronic bad breath using mouthwash as their weapon of choice. Ironically, commercial mouthwashes are almost useless in eliminating chronic bad breath.
Recent studies have shown that mouthwashes only temporarily mask the odor of bad breath for as little as 10 minutes after brushing. In fact, because they contain alcohol, mouthwashes can actually make the situation worse by drying out the mouth creating a more hospitable environment for odor causing bacteria. A new breed of mouthwashes, however, containing chlorine dioxide are very effective at combating bad breath. These mouthwashes do not mask bad breath odor like conventional mouth washes.
Instead, the chlorine dioxide in these rinses directly attacks the volatile sulfur compounds responsible for bad breath.
Did you know the nose could contribute to bad breath? Thick nasal discharge resulting from colds, allergies, hormonal changes, medications, or pregnancy, can drip down the back of the throat and collect on the back of the tongue. Here this layer of nasal mucus discharge provides a protective blanket under which bacteria hide. Worse yet, the bacteria can break down proteins in the mucus to create volatile sulfur particles.
Using an over the counter nasal spray is one way to help thin out postnasal discharge making it less likely to collect on the back of the tongue. Drinking water may also help make mucus less viscous and therefore less likely to collect on the back of the tongue.
Periodontal Disease - A Treatable Cause Of Bad Breath
- Stay away from certain foods that are known to cause bad breath
- Remove bacteria and food particles by brushing your teeth and flossing
- Remove bacteria from your tongue with a tongue cleaner
- Make sure that your mouth does not become too dry by drinking water and maintaining saliva flow, and still have bad breath, you may want to see your dentist. This is because anaerobic bacteria in your mouth may have found special hiding places. Normally there is a small 1-3 millimeter space between your gums and teeth. This is known as the periodontal pocket or pocket for short
When pockets become 5mm in size or larger they create deeper and more secluded hiding places bacteria. Enlarged periodontal pockets are difficult to keep clean and the bacteria within them create a continuous supply of volatile sulfur compounds. What creates these widened pockets which harbor bacteria? Usually enlarged pockets are created by periodontal disease. If you have persistent bad breath see your dentist. He or she will be able to detect enlarged periodontal pockets in a routine gum exam and can also determine if you have periodontal disease. If you do have periodontal disease, your dentist can help you treat it and consequently eliminate bad breath associated with it.
Other symptoms associated with periodontal disease include:
- Swollen or bleeding gums
- Tender gums
- Loosening and shifting teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Pain when you chew
As you can see, bad breath can be eliminated. No longer do you or your loved ones have to fear embarrassment from foul mouth odor!
For more information about halitosis and chronic bad breath, please visit our friends at American Breath Specialists.
We have received e-mail from people stating that they have trouble finding certain dental products. In response, we have made available certain products in our office. Tongue cleaners and chlorine dioxide mouthwashes mentioned above are among those. Let us know if you have trouble finding these.