In almost every social situation, there is one thing most people are concerned about: halitosis, better known as bad breath. It can be embarrassing for you, uncomfortable to other people, and potentially a deal breaker for a job interview or date. To make it even more difficult to manage, our bodies have a great way of blocking out constant smells, making it very hard to determine if we have bad breath before it’s too late.
How do I know if I have bad breath?
You can easily test how your breath smells to others with this simple test. Lick part of your arm and smell it after about 10 seconds. Now, licking your arm in public may seem weird (and have its own social consequences), this test can give you a good indication of how your breath smells. However, it may not always be accurate. The best thing you can do is be aware of what causes bad breath and prevent it before it happens to you.
What Causes Bad Breath?
The most common cause of bad breath is straightforward; you have a dirty mouth. Bacteria live in your mouth, and when you eat, they eat. These odors are made worse by your tongue, which acts like a fleshy dish sponge, absorbing food particles and bacterial byproducts.
If you think this is your issue–and it is best place to start–the best remedy is to brush and floss daily. This will help eliminate leftovers for the bacteria to eat. To further eliminate any odor, open your mouth and look at the back of your tongue. If looks like it’s covered in a white or brown substance, this could be the main source of your bad breath. Brush as far back on your tongue as you can with your toothbrush, or use a tongue scraper, which will do the job more efficiently.
Saliva keeps the mouth clean by washing away bacteria, plaque, and keeping the acidic levels in your mouth at the proper level. If your mouth is chronically dry, bacteria can take over, leading to bad breath. If you are experiencing dry mouth, be sure you are drinking plenty of water. Additionally, check to see if any medication you are taking causes dry mouth. If so, talk to your doctor about solutions or a potential change in medication, if possible.
Specific Types of Food
There are certain types of food that cause bad breath. No matter what you do, you won’t be able to avoid the unwelcome baggage they carry. Coffee, tuna, onion, and garlic have a tendency to stick around even after you brush your teeth. For example, as garlic is digested, sulfur compounds permeate your lungs and skin, meaning there isn’t much you can do to hide the smell. For the sake of everyone around you, don’t go to hot yoga after eating a clove of garlic.
Bad breath can also be a sign of something more significant. If you have ruled out the issues above, bad breath (along with other symptoms) can be related to diabetes, gum disease, kidney disease, and many more chronic conditions. If you think your bad breath is connected to a more serious ailment, contact your family doctor to learn more.
What can the dentist do for bad breath?
Dentists are able to look at your mouth and see what the potential cause of your bad breath is. They will have the expertise to notice if it’s plaque, debris on your tongue, or periodontal disease. They can also prescribe you antimicrobial toothpaste and mouthwash to take care of the issue. The dentist may determine that the issue may not be located in your mouth, and would then refer you to your family doctor.
Come visit Dr. Weber at Douglas B. Weber, DDS if you have any more questions or concerns about halitosis.
For many smokers, e-cigarettes seem like the best answer to avoiding the nasty side effects of smoking traditional cigarettes, including the odor and the staining of teeth, skin, and clothing. Though e-cigarettes still contain the highly addictive chemical nicotine, tobacco and other harmful elements are eliminated from the electronic smoking process, or what some refer to as “vaping.”
The growing popularity of e-cigarettes and vaping, especially among young people, has caused a rise in concern over the lack of knowledge around the effects it has on health. While clinical studies are currently underway, in 2014 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement saying “e-cigarettes have not been fully studied, so consumers currently don’t know the potential risks of e-cigarettes when used as intended, how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled during use, or whether there are any benefits associated with using these products.”
Even though the FDA isn’t yet ready to comment on health risks associated with vaping, dentists are able to speak to how these new smoking devices threaten your oral health. Nicotine is harmful to your teeth and gums, even in the absence of tobacco and other chemicals traditionally found in cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes still deliver nicotine to their users through the mouth, throat, and lungs. The following are some of the consequences that come with using smokeless cigarettes.
Gum Disease: One of the telltale signs of gum disease is swelling of the gums caused by irritation. Nicotine reduces blood flow, preventing swelling, which can mask the presence of gum disease — causing your dentist to miss the symptoms and allowing the disease to progress.
Gum Recession: Lack of blood flow to the gums keeps the tissue from receiving the nutrients it needs to survive. Over time the skin dies and recedes.
Bad Breath: Nicotine restricts your body’s ability to produce saliva, which makes your mouth vulnerable to harmful bacteria and tooth decay. Combined, dry mouth and bacteria lead to halitosis, which can be embarrassing and can affect your self-esteem.
Intense Grinding: As a stimulant, nicotine causes muscles to tighten and spasm against the user’s will. It can cause sleep disturbances such as insomnia and grinding of the teeth. Grinding, especially while sleeping, can be damaging to teeth and result in the loss of tooth enamel, as well as chipping, cracking, and breaking of teeth.
If you want to maintain your best oral health, avoiding any type of smoking is recommended. If you do choose to smoke, keeping it to the minimum and maintaining your best at-home oral hygiene practices as well as your routine visits to the dentist is important.
If you see signs of periodontal disease (including red, swollen, bleeding, or receding gums) or experience bad breath, painful chewing, or loose teeth, make sure to contact your dentist immediately. There are treatments you can receive that will help keep your teeth and gums in the best possible condition. Two such treatments include:
- Professional dental cleanings
Plaque and tartar are removed from above and below the gumline. If you have gingivitis or signs of periodontitis, you will be required to have this level of cleaning twice a year or more.
- Scaling and root planing
Plaque and tartar are scraped away from both above and below the gumline while under local anesthetic (scaling). Rough spots on the tooth root are then smoothed out (planing). Locally applied medications, such as antimicrobials and antibiotics, may be used.
If you are experiencing jaw tightness or pain, and you think you might be grinding your teeth, your provider can fit you with a mouthguard that will protect your teeth while you sleep.
It can be difficult to share your habits with your dentist. At Douglas B. Weber, DDS, we treat our patients with respect and compassion. We are here to help you be your healthiest self. If you use e-cigarettes and are concerned about how they may be affecting your oral health, call us today and set up a consultation. We will help you protect your teeth and maintain your natural smile.
Mistletoe has been hung, setting blissful, kissing booby traps for the unsuspecting, and when the ball drops, lips will lock everywhere.
During the month of December, your oral health and hygiene needs to be on point!
Brushing and rinsing twice a day, as well as daily flossing, helps keep your mouth healthy but doesn’t necessarily ensure fresh breath that will last all day long. And during a season hallmarked by the unexpected, one does not want to be caught face-to-face suffering from a bad case of halitosis. So what can you do to improve your chances of being 100% smoochable should the opportunity arise? Read on for breath-saving tips that are sure to improve your chances of ringing in the New Year with more than a smile on your lips.
Food for Thought
When you eat, food is absorbed into your bloodstream and expelled out of your lungs when you breathe. This means that you may suffer from bad breath even when your diet is healthy and balanced. The following foods are notorious for turning breath foul, so ingest them sparingly or at least with extreme caution.
- Garlic: This powerful herb can turn a bland dish into a delectable culinary work of art. Its versatility allows it to be used in a variety of cuisines and eaten or used for cooking whole, crushed, chopped, or dried and powdered. Garlic is also renowned for its health benefits and its ability to ward off vampires. While it does all of these amazing things, its major drawback is its ability to turn the odor of your breath into a scent so repellant that even the most determined admirer would have great difficulty overcoming their repulsion long enough to plant a wet one on you. Also note: If eaten regularly and in large quantities, it can affect your body odor negatively as well.
- Onion: While onion is not as powerful as garlic, its fellow odoriferous bulb, this herb is commonly used to enhance the flavor of a large range of dishes. It is often served raw in salads, added to soups and other savory dishes, and comes in a large variety of types and flavors. The types of onion include brown onions, green onions, leeks, pearl onions, shallots, and more, and while they are all very different in appearance, texture, and flavor, they all have one thing in common: They make your breath stink.
- Coffee: Too much coffee gives you bad breath. It’s a hard truth to face, especially since dates at coffee shops are where many love stories begin. Coffee is wonderful at delivering a warm wake-up call each morning and nurturing its consumer into a state of alertness that allows them to take on the day. While this is a deeply appreciated trait, what few people realize is that it’s also one of the most dehydrating drinks you can consume. We aren’t suggesting that you quit coffee for good, but if you want the confidence that comes with fresh breath, you should limit your consumption to a cup a day.
- Alcohol: Don’t give up your Champagne toast at midnight on New Year’s Eve, but do watch your overall consumption of alcoholic beverages. That beer you look forward to at the end of each day and that weekly happy-hour cocktail you consume with your co-workers is drying out your mouth. When your saliva flow runs low, bad-smelling bacteria sticks around and turns breath bad.
Battle Bad Breath
There are a variety of simple ways you can actively ward off and battle bad breath on a daily basis.
- Stay hydrated: Drink water all day long. It washes away leftover food particles and the bacteria that can lead to decay, and it helps you avoid dry mouth. Aim for six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
- Clean your tongue: Residual buildup between your taste buds and the fold in your tongue can affect your breath negatively. Keep your tongue clean by brushing it regularly. You can also find very effective tongue scrapers at most drugstores.
- Chew gum: Sugarless gum with xylitol keeps your breath fresh while cleaning your teeth. Gum stimulates the flow of saliva, which washes unwanted debris from your teeth.
- Snack on this: Crisp, fresh fruits and vegetables turn on the flow of saliva and decrease the occurrence of bad breath caused by hunger. When you become hungry, especially when you are on calorie-restricted diets, the acids in your stomach build up and give your breath a nasty scent.
- Eat your garnish: Parsley is a popular garnish on many of the dishes served in restaurants. Most people think the only purpose it serves is to pretty up your plate. But parsley contains chlorophyll, which is a powerful breath and post-meal romance saver.
If you want to feel completely confident this holiday season, give your Lancaster dentist Dr. Douglas Weber a call at (661) 952-7865 and set up a cleaning. We will make sure your smile is New Year’s Eve ready, so you can enjoy kissing this year goodbye.
The wondering and not knowing is stressful. The sudden unexpected confirmation is humiliating. And trying to cover it up feels futile.
Bad breath — we all suffer from it at some point in our lives, but why? What does it mean? And how do we get rid of it? Often it comes on without warning, and it’s identified with a grimace and a turn of the head during close conversation, when a spouse or partner rejects a kiss, or worse yet, when your beloved child publicly announces, “Your breath stinks!” at the tippy top of their tiny but strong lungs.
The following are four common causes and remedies for bad breath, as well as an important “Did you know?” that you won’t want to miss. (Hint: Bad breath may be your body’s way of sending out an SOS.)
Causes of Bad Breath
Dry Mouth: Prolonged sleep, dehydration, and some medications can lead to dry mouth. When the mouth becomes dry, bacteria begin to break down dead cells on the tongue — a process that emits a foul odor.
Insufficient Oral Hygiene: Though bad breath is usually caused by bacteria on the tongue, if bits of food get stuck in your teeth, the same bacteria that attack dead cells on your tongue will build up on your teeth and create an unpleasant scent.
Crash Diets and Fasting: Fasting and diets that cause the body to break down fats rapidly will release ketones, causing a condition called ketoacidosis, which can create an unpleasant, fruity odor that is carried on the breath.
Food Choices: Onion and garlic are two foods that are well-known causes of bad breath. What most people don’t realize is that the foul smell is caused by the sulfur compounds in these foods. Once absorbed by the body, their odor is carried on the breath for hours.
Remedies for Bad Breath
Clean Your Whole Mouth: Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once is key to avoiding bad breath, but something is missing from this routine: your tongue. Bacteria that grow in your mouth are the most common cause of bad breath, and your tongue is a big part of your mouth. Make sure to brush and clean it twice daily if you want to stay fresh.
Drink Water: Drinking lots of water keeps you hydrated and stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth. Saliva helps wash away food particles and works to keep your mouth clean. The more you drink, the fresher your breath will taste and smell, and the healthier you will feel overall.
Adjust Your Diet: Avoiding food that causes bad breath, like the aforementioned garlic and onions, only helps your breath so much. Filling your plate with foods packed with vitamin C will take you to the next level of fresh by creating an environment that is inhospitable to mouth bacteria. Some of the crunchier vegetables and fruits will also act as nature’s toothbrush and knock particles of food off your teeth, keeping them extra clean.
Did You Know?
If you have a case of halitosis you just can’t seem to get rid of, it may be your body’s way of telling you that something serious is going on. Several health conditions that are associated with bad breath and require immediate attention from a health professional include:
- Severe periodontal disease
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Autoimmune disorders
- Serious lung conditions
If you have recurring bad breath or are struggling with a difficult case of halitosis, we can help you identify the cause. Give Douglas B. Weber, DDS a call at (661) 952-7865 to set up a quick consultation. A good cleaning might be all you need to refresh your smile and your confidence.