Last updated 4 months ago
Over half of us must deal with occasional halitosis (bad breath) and being socially offensive is a serious problem, as evidenced by the long list of products offering to help.
The causes of bad breath are dental, medical, food or medicines.
Food left between the teeth or under the gum line will simply rot and bacteria then take root in these crevices and perpetuate the sulfurous odor. Colonies of bacteria live under failing dental work. Removable dental appliances, such as dentures or night time mouth guards are porous, they must be cleansed daily or they will become petri dishes teaming with smelly germs. Not attractive.
There are medical reasons for halitosis. The common texture to the tongue is coarser in some individuals. We name this condition ‘Hairy Tongue’ and these individuals are prone to trapping food and thereby halitosis.
Diseases of the kidney and liver, conditions such as diabetes and sinusitis, and chronically inflamed tonsils have all been implicated in halitosis. We were taught that H. pylorus bacteria in the stomach was responsible for bad breath but this concept is in dispute.
We all know to avoid garlic or onions in social situations. However coffee and alcohol dry the mouth, and also contribute to offensive breath.
If foods can cause bad breath, some foods can also help. Chewing mint or parsley freshens the breath. Those coffee beans floating in Italian licorice liqueur are indeed ‘for lovers’ as they are meant to be chewed in order to absorb the garlic from that #1 Marinara sauce. The bowl of fennel seeds offered as you leave the Indian restaurant is there to help.
Medicines can dry the mouth and cause bad breath. Many heart medications, asthma preparations, pain relievers and psychiatric drugs cause dry mouth as a side effect. Fish oil supplements, as well as other herbal medications, can also cause unpleasant mouth odor.
Besides unpleasant breath, dry mouth has serious implications for your oral health. Teeth can decay rapidly, expensive dental work can decay at their edges, and inflammatory diseases of the gums can go wild. If you experience chronic dry mouth, carrying a bottle of water won’t help enough. Saliva is 98% water. That 2% that is NOT water has important elements for keeping your mouth healthy. Do not discontinue your medicines, have a breathless talk with your doctor about alternative medications.
The treatment first involves a careful dental work up. Bring a list of your medications and a complete history. A food diary for a few days helps.
Once necessary dental care is done, along with your improved oral hygiene, the problem will probably be over. You might want to get various products for dry mouth (Oasis, Biotene) from the toothpaste aisle. There is a new oral patch (Ora-Moist) that purports to boost salivary flow. Dioxicare is a mouth rinse that makes specific claims for halitosis. You can make a mouthwash from Sage, Calendula and Myrrh Gum, from the health food store.
PS- If someone clipped this article and left it around the house… better call your family dentist.
Dr. Jim Nager is practicing dentist and resident of Belmont, and a Clinical Instructor at Harvard. Call Belmont Dental Group today at (617) 484-2431 to arrange an appointment for any of our general dentistry services. Questions of a general nature that may be addressed in this space can be sent to email@example.com
Last updated 4 months ago
At Belmont Dental Group, we know that all of our patients have different needs and wants. We strive to provide you with compassionate and individualized care, as if you were one of our family members. If you would like to set up an appointment, call us today at (617) 484-2431 or visit us on the web. Check out these great links for more information on how to keep your teeth looking their best and what to look out for that could be harming your teeth.
Fluoride isn’t just for children. Medical News Today explains why adults can benefit from regular fluoride treatment.
Do you often wake up with a headache and jaw pain? CBS News reports on the symptoms of nighttime teeth grinding.
Periodontal disease is a widespread problem in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives readers an overview of the causes and signs of gum diseases.
Anxiety frequently keeps people out of the dentist’s chair, but help is available. WebMD explains how sedation dentistry can help individuals who experience dental checkup stress.
Last updated 4 months ago
Toothpaste holds some fascination for us. Here is my collection of various uses. I haven’t tried all of these, but be careful if you do.
Kitchen: Toothpaste can be used to clean silverware and flatware. It scrubs sinks and countertops, while smelling nice and without using some creepy chemicals. Do your storage containers smell stale?- try a little toothpaste. If your hands pick up the odor of onions and garlic while cooking, you can freshen them up with a little toothpaste scrub.
Auto: Toothpaste will scrub bumpers free of flattened bugs and small rust spots and did you know used car dealers use toothpaste to polish and shine windshields. That one really gets me. Inside of a folded towel, toothpaste can deodorize your car. Would it work in fuzzy dice?
Fabrics: Toothpaste is a great stain remover which is great to know when you travel. It even works on carpets.
Home: Toothpaste can be used for everything from filling in small holes in walls to cleaning your diamond. (I wouldn’t try this with a soft stone like an emerald and pah-leeze don’t do it over the sink, y’know?) You might even tack up a poster with a little toothpaste adhesive at the corners. Toothpaste takes crayon marks off walls, can smooth scuffed leather on shoes. and rub marks off sneakers and white laces. My dad uses toothpaste to clean piano keys. You can even get scratches off of DVDs and CDs with a gentle toothpaste polish. It must work, have you ever seen a DVD with tooth decay? Never.
Toothpaste can diminish water rings on furniture, just follow with a bit of furniture polish. Is the bottom of your iron all gunky? Apply toothpaste to the cold iron, heat it up just gently and rub.
Personal Health: Toothpaste on an unruptured acne blemish might lessen it overnight. Blackheads can be scrubbed and bug bites soothed. Beach tar on your feet?- try a little dab of toothpaste with a cloth. Toe and finger nails take a nice shine with toothpaste. Leave it on overnight and gum will come off your hair and clothes.
There are three essential properties that are useful in toothpaste. The abrasives in toothpaste are specially formulated to get smaller as you use it. This degrading particle size is how toothpaste first scrubs, and then polishes. Toothpastes contain simple cleaners such as baking soda. Typical flavoring like mint extract overwhelm most unpleasant odors around the house.
Oh yes, one other thing, toothpaste is at its best when put on a soft toothbrush and used gently to clean your teeth. Then give someone you love a sweet little kiss.
Dr. Jim Nager is a practicing dentist and resident of Belmont, as well as a Clinical Instructor at Harvard. Call Belmont Dental Group today at (617) 484-2431 to arrange an appointment for any of our general dentistry services.Questions of a general nature that might be addressed in this column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Last updated 4 months ago
Belmont Dental Group offers comprehensive dental options for patients in the greater Cambridge and Belmont communities. Our facility provides many general dentistry, restorative dentistry, and cosmetic dentistry services, including dental sealants and Invisalign. Call us today at (617) 484-2431 to schedule a consultation.
You can get straighter teeth without braces. Invisalign.com discusses how Invisalign aligners can give you a more beautiful smile with minimal inconvenience.
When tooth decay and bacteria have invaded the tooth structure, you may need root canal surgery. MouthHealthy.org details the reasons that necessitate a root canal.
If you have lost a tooth, you can restore your smile with a dental implant. The Mayo Clinic describes the dental implant surgery process.
Individuals diagnosed with diabetes can suffer gum tissue complications. The American Diabetes Association discusses the link between diabetes and your oral health.
Last updated 4 months ago
Over 17 million Americans abuse alcohol. It is unclear how many of our relatives and neighbors cross the line from Abuse to Addiction. It is a huge problem for the individual, for their families, and for their dentist.
One definition of Alcoholism is defined by four behavioral signs:
Someone develops a strong craving to drink
Cannot stop drinking once they start
Develops withdrawal symptoms when deprived of alcohol (sweating, nausea, shaking)
Tolerance—one needs to drink more for the effect they desire
The need to drink is not stable. As a person needs increasingly more, the negative effects on their physiology accumulate and worsen.
One result of alcoholism can be that people pay poor attention to eating a variety of healthful foods. They become deficient in folic acid, Vitamin K and D, niacin, magnesium, zinc, and thiamine. Their mouths become irritated from the alcohol and cannot heal well because of their poor diet. Combine this with tobacco—cigarettes, cigars, pipes or dip—and you have a perfect storm for oral cancer.
Alcohol, metabolized like sugar, leads to cravings for sugary drinks and food. Dental hygiene habits decline and dehydration from alcohol abuse goes hand in hand with drinking. Everything we just talked about gets worse.
Treating the rampant dental decay and gum disease in alcoholics is made challenging by their altered physiology. Progressive liver disease accompanies alcohol abuse. The results are abnormal bleeding, poor healing, infections that get out of hand, and complicated reactions to the medicines we prescribe.
The immune system is depressed in alcoholics. They are subject to more frequent and more severe dental infections. Erythromycin is a common ‘go to’ antibiotic for dental infections when the patient is allergic to the penicillin family. In the alcoholic, the absorption of erythromycin is poor. Runaway dental infections can result with the concomitant pain, swelling, and danger.
Common drugs like Acetaminophen (Tylenol) become toxic because they accumulate to dangerous levels in the liver. When a twelve pound organ like your liver gets destroyed, there is no living without it. Aspirin and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Advil and Aleve) become toxic to the kidneys. At least you have two of them. Each kidney weighs only a quarter pound. They are small, but very necessary, and it is good to take care of them.
Now that the antibiotics aren’t helping and things are getting worse, we can’t manage pain well. Most of the pain relievers have aspirin, NSAID’s, or acetaminophen combined with a narcotic. We likewise can’t prescribe narcotics because their effect will be dangerously and unpredictably multiplied.
Even in recovery, alcoholics get a tough shake. If they had a liver transplant, they are on strong immunosuppressant drugs. Infections are more frequent and more severe. If the dentist gives them antibiotics, it will be to a lower than desirable dose than the dose that works fastest. Caution with narcotic pain relievers is necessary, so as not to re-activate the addiction.
If you drink a lot, please be up front with your dentist. We are not here to judge you. We are here to help you manage your oral health, so you don’t get a nasty cancer. We don't want you to need a gazillion appointments for a bazillion dollars of dental work. Lastly, so you don’t have swelling and pain and bleeding that we can’t manage. We know there are lots of people in the same boat. It is likely we know about your problem already.
There are many good pathways to recovery. A couple that might work for you are:
Our own MacLean Hospital’s Center at Fernside (800-333-0338)
Alcoholics Anonymous: aa.org
Good luck, God bless.
Dr. Jim Nager is a practicing dentist and resident of Belmont, and a Clinical Instructor at Harvard. Call Belmont Dental Group today at (617) 484-2431 to arrange an appointment for any of our general dentistry services.