Word of Appreciation

Updated: 02/25/2011

Bad Breath — 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 pregnancy outcomes.

Magic Mix Recipe

• Blend ½ 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.

Worried that you may be a candidate for the Halitosis Hall of Fame? TAKE THE TEST:
1. Lick the back of your hand. Wait about 10 seconds, smell your hand.
2. Cup your hands in front of your mouth, exhale then breathe in. This is what others smell when you talk to them.
3. 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?
4. Has your dentist or hygienist advised you should improve your oral hygiene?
5. 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.
6. Take a piece of gauze, run it over the top back portion of your tongue. Smell it.
7. 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 halitosis.

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.

This article originally appeared in HealthNewsDigest.com (http://www.healthnewsdigest.com/news/hlth_badbreath-15.html)

Sheila Wolf “BIO”

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. 

Sheila will happily share her articles with you. Please acknowledge her contribution by including her “Bio” at the end of the article.

Bad Breath - What to do?
Mama Gums