What to Do?
Halitosis (Bad Breath)
By Sheila Wolf, RDH
(HealthNewsDigest.com)...Everyone has bad breath
from time to time. Onions, garlic, spicy foods, cigarettes
and coffee are some of the offenders. And then there's morning
breath. Remember that mouthwash commercial on TV showing two
lovers waking up, looking lovingly at each other for only
an instant, then turning their heads, covering their mouths,
and muttering "good morning" without breathing in
each other's face?
This concern over bad breath can have many social
consequences. It can actually impinge on one's quality of
life. Whether at a job interview or climbing the corporate
ladder, going on a first date or bumping into an old friend,
the fear of offending is pervasive. There is so much concern
about bad breath that, in the United States alone, it has
become an eight hundred fifty-million dollar business for
mouthwash companies. Too bad that mouthwash, rinses, sprays
and mints are only a temporary relief. Much like perfume sprayed
over smelly armpits, mouthwashes are largely ineffective because
they don't really get to the heart of the problem.
What is the problem?
Some people believe that bad breath originates
from the stomach. This is generally not so. The stomach is
basically a closed system, a tube going in one direction (except
for occasional burping or vomiting). Eighty to ninety percent
of all bad breath comes from the oral cavity, specifically
from bacteria in the crevices between your teeth, below
puffy gum "pockets," from post-nasal drip, and from
the nooks and crannies of your tongue.
All these areas are very fertile breeding grounds
for bacteria to hide and multiply. When bacteria become so
rampant and cause infection, the byproducts, Volatile Sulfur
Compounds, smell like something died right inside your mouth.
Infections from around your teeth and gums (periodontal) are
nasty for your health and put you in danger for serious whole-body
problems, including heart attack, stroke and even adverse
cup baking soda, 1-teaspoon salt.
Place in closed container.
At each brushing, dip brush
in peroxide and water, then dunk in powder
to cover brush.
Since there are over 500 different types of
microorganisms lurking in your mouth, just mechanically brushing
your teeth is not enough. If it were, 75% of the population
wouldn't have gum infections. You must think of eliminating
the harmful bacteria from the mouth through chemical means
as well as mechanical. In my book Pregnancy
and Oral Health, I recommend using a simple homemade
toothpaste that I call "Magic Mix." It consists
of baking soda, salt and hydrogen peroxide. Brushing along
the gum line once a day for two minutes with these chemicals,
and using floss, toothpicks, or tiny brushes between the teeth,
will devastate the invaders that cause the damage. I also
advise using an irrigator such as a Water-pik, which can deliver
a jet of potent antibacterial solution into hard-to-reach
areas and under the gum line. It is no longer about just cleaning
your teeth. It is about disinfecting or debugging your mouth.
you may be a candidate for the Halitosis Hall
of Fame? TAKE THE TEST:
||Lick the back of your hand.
Wait about 10 seconds, smell your hand.
|| Cup your hands in front of
your mouth, exhale then breathe in. This is
what others smell when you talk to them.
|| Are your gums red, swollen,
or do they bleed when you brush, floss or
use a toothpick? Is there blood or pus exuding
if you press on them?
|| Has your dentist or hygienist
advised you should improve your oral hygiene?
|| Take a piece of dental floss,
swipe it around several of your back teeth,
top and bottom and then smell the floss. That
is what people smell when they are up close.
|| Take a piece of gauze, run
it over the top back portion of your tongue.
|| If you're courageous, ASK
a friend. Tell them you want to know the truth.
Many people will not tell you because they
don't want to hurt your feelings.
Now, take a peek at your tongue in the mirror.
See if it has a white or yellowish coating on it. The thicker
the layer, the longer it has been there and the more severe
or chronic the malodor problem. Because the tongue contains
tiny irregularities, like taste buds, there are plenty of
hiding places for the bacteria to flourish. There they produce
the sulfur compounds from the foods we eat, from bacterial
waste products and from skin cells that slough off in the
course of daily living. If these VSCs are undisturbed or not
"oxygenated" they will create the odor of chronic
The easiest and most effective way to clean
your tongue is with a toothbrush, a small spoon, a popsicle
stick or a specially designed tool the tongue scraper.
The technique is simple. Stick out your tongue, place the
scraper as far back on your tongue as you can without gagging
yourself, then pull forward with a light to moderate pressure.
You never want to have your tongue bleed. Be gentle yet firm.
It takes just a few seconds to do and it is such a valuable
technique for eliminating those bad breath germs from the
surface of your tongue. Followed by pleasant-tasting toothpaste,
I think you might be ready for a kiss.
originally appeared in HealthNewsDigest.com (http://www.healthnewsdigest.com/news/hlth_badbreath-15.html)
Sheila Wolf, RDH, affectionately called Mama Gums, has been a registered dental hygienist since 1971. She is currently retired from clinical practice but enjoys writing, speaking, and consulting on various oral health issues. She has authored two award-winning books, Pregnancy and Oral Health: The critical connection between your mouth and your baby, and Your Mouth Could Be KILLING You. Both are available on her website, http://www.mamagums.com/about_book.html, through Amazon, and at finer bookstores everywhere. Sheila also works with people privately as an oral wellness coach, educating and empowering people to keep their natural teeth for a lifetime, avoid gum surgery, and just possibly add years to their lives. You may reach Sheila through her website, www.mamagums.com or in San Diego at 866-MAMA-GUMs.
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