On the social front, there’s only one way to look at bad breath. It smells! Chronic halitosis affects more than half of Americans – and yet it’s still often taboo to discuss the problem openly. Some dentists even hesitate to bring up the topic if patients don’t initiate the conversation.
So, let’s be honest. Offensive breath can wilt conversation faster than just about anything. It’s an age-old problem, mentioned in numerous ancient writings. Currently, Americans spend billions of dollars each year on mints, mouthwash, toothpaste and breath sprays to freshen their breaths and boost self-confidence.
While breath-masking products help, I think a more effective approach is to identify the root of the problem! Is the odor’s source simply your penchant for foods with garlic, onion and other strong spices, or are you lax on your oral hygiene habits? Nine times out of 10, poor oral hygiene is the main problem.
If you aren’t brushing, flossing and using mouth wash on a daily basis, you will have offensive breath. The long-term consequences of bad dental care habits also will lead to puffy and bleeding gums, decay and tooth loss. It’s just a matter of time. Systemic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer are linked to poor dental health, as well.
What Causes Bad Breath? Additional Reasons
- Gum infection
- A smelly coating on the tongue
- Smoking, coffee and alcohol
- Acid reflux
- Dry mouth (“xerostomia”)
- Infected sinuses
- Tonsil “stones”
- Poorly fitted dental appliances
- Extremely low-carb diets
The good news is that bad breath is highly treatable. Eating a healthful diet, breaking a tobacco habit and treating disease are a start. Regular dental checkups every six month and practicing a sound oral hygiene regimen at home are a must, if you want to conquer dragon breath.
Teeth should be brushed a minimum of twice a day, preferably after meals. Use dental floss to remove plaque from below the gum line and rinse with antiseptic alcohol-free mouthwash daily. Brushing the tongue and the palate should be routine. There are even tongue scrapers that help remove the tongue coating that harbors odor-causing bacteria. Be sure to gargle daily to loosen any plaque-like material from tonsil pockets.
Sip plenty of water throughout the day to keep the mouth moist and to rinse away food particles and bacteria. If the mouth is dry, the pH level changes, promoting an acidic environment in which bacteria thrive. Some anti-anxiety, anti-depressant and anti-histamine meds reduce salivation. So do certain medical conditions. Those with allergies and asthma often have to resort to mouth breathing and suffer from dryness. In some cases of “dry mouth,” artificial saliva may be required to protect the teeth and improve breath.
If you live in the Encino, Sherman Oaks, Woodland Hills, Van Nuys or Tarzana areas in California and suffer from chronic bad breath, let’s check things out. Just call my awesome FocusedCareDental staff and ask for an appointment with Dr. Allen Melnick. Ninety percent of the time we can correct things in our office, but I’d be happy to refer you to another physician if your case is more complex.
Best Regards, AM
Tip of the Day: Did you know eating mozzarella and other cheeses helps neutralize oral acidity? If you are on the go, include a dairy product with your restaurant meal, and actually use the parsley on the side of the plate! Chewing this garnish will fight odor-producing bacteria. Drink water at the end of the meal to rinse away food, and pop in a stick of xylitol-sweetened gum such as Spry, Vitacare or Ice Cubes.