How to Prevent Bad Breath

We all experience bad breath every now and then. Usually it’s a minor inconvenience resolved with a thorough brushing. There are times, however, when bad breath becomes a recurring condition that can be a major source of embarrassment. Fortunately, mouth odor is preventable. By familiarizing yourself with the causes of bad breath, you’ll be able to take action and keep it in check.

Brushing and Flossing Habits: Proper care of your teeth and gums will go a long way toward maintaining fresh breath. The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice each day with a fluoride toothpaste. Don’t forget to brush your tongue; bacteria can gather there as well. To remove odor-causing food particles from between your teeth, be sure to floss once per day.

Diet: The phrase “you are what you eat” is especially true when it comes to mouth odor. Researchers at New York University list strong-smelling foods such as pastrami, garlic, and onions as common culprits of bad breath. If you’re dieting, you may notice that your breath is worse between meals. Infrequent eating results in lower saliva production, which can cause bacteria buildup in the mouth. Eating meals at regular intervals can help reduce this accumulation.

Dry Mouth: The American Dental Association attributes a condition called xerostomia, better known as dry mouth, to bad breath. Dry mouth is exactly what it sounds like: a decreased amount of saliva resulting from continuous mouth breathing, salivary gland problems, or certain medications. The lack of beneficial saliva can lead to a buildup of odor-causing particles in the mouth. To combat dry mouth, be sure to stay hydrated or try sucking on a sugar-free candy.

Tobacco Use: Yet another entry on the long list of reasons to kick the habit, tobacco products can also contribute to bad breath. The experts at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center attribute tobacco use to a wide range of problems with the teeth and gums. In addition to mouth odor, potential problems include periodontal disease, loss of taste, gum irritation, and oral cancer.

Medical Conditions: Bad breath can be a warning sign or symptom of another underlying health issue. According to the Wexner Medical Center, mouth odor can indicate a respiratory infection, diabetes, a gastrointestinal disorder, or issues with the liver and kidneys. Symptoms vary from person to person, so if you suspect that your bad breath might be stemming from a larger problem, make an appointment with your doctor to address your concerns.

Additional Prevention: Scheduling regular dental checkups will help keep plaque buildup and gum disease from developing. Contact our office about any oral health issues you may be experiencing. We can provide professional recommendations tailored to your situation that will help keep your mouth as fresh and clean as it can be.

Four Common Causes of Toothaches

If you have ever suffered from a toothache, you know how excruciating the pain can be. Tooth pain is usually caused by irritation to the nerves in the roots of the teeth, although there are other potential sources of the pain as well. Fortunately, there are ways to both prevent and resolve a toothache, regardless of its cause.

Causes of Tooth Pain

Some of the most common causes of tooth pain include:

• Tooth Decay – Also known as cavities, tooth decay occurs when bacteria erode the enamel of the tooth, which can eventually expose the nerve. This is the most common cause of tooth pain.
• Gum Disease – Also known as periodontal disease, occurs when bacteria populate along and below the gum line.
• Injury – An injury can include a small chip or a large break in the tooth.
• Impaction – Teeth often become impacted beneath the surface of the gums. This condition is most common in molars, such as the wisdom teeth. An impacted tooth may cause no pain at all, or it could become extremely painful if it begins to affect the nerves and teeth around it.

Pain Resolution

Determining the source of your pain starts with a trip to the dentist. Usually, your dentist will conduct a thorough examination that may include X-rays. If your X-rays or examination reveal tooth decay, the solution may involve a simple filling, a root canal or even a tooth extraction. Your dentist will decide which option is best for you based on how advanced the tooth decay is, as well whether an infection is present within the tooth.

If, however, gum disease is causing your tooth pain, the solution may be as simple as a root planing and scaling, followed by administration of oral or topical antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing your symptoms. If you have a cracked, chipped or broken tooth, your dentist may resolve your pain by either filling the crack, or covering the tooth with a crown designed to prevent bacteria from entering the tooth.

If your dental X-rays reveal that you have an impacted tooth, you will most likely need to have it extracted to avoid causing damage or misalignment to the other teeth. Impacted teeth can also become infected, which is why it is important to remove impacted teeth before they begin to cause problems.

Prevention

Although there are ways of treating a toothache, the best way to treat it is by preventing it altogether. Some causes of tooth pain are not preventable, such as an impacted tooth or a predisposition to tooth sensitivity. However, tooth decay and gum disease are easily prevented by using good hygienic practices at home and visiting your dentist for regular examinations and cleanings. By brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing, as well as wearing protective mouthguards when participating in high-impact activities, you can significantly decrease your chances of developing tooth pain in the future.

A Healthy Mouth Starts With What You Eat!

Most people know that visiting the dentist is an essential part of caring for their teeth. Regular checkups and cleanings are, of course, very important. But what some people don’t realize is that good dental hygiene starts long before you get to the dentist’s office. You may be saying, “I know, it starts with my toothbrush and floss.” But actually, oral health begins even before that. A healthy smile starts at your grocery store.

Dental checkups can detect problems early on and address them, but only good nutrition can give your teeth and gums the healthy foundation they need. If your diet is rich in tooth-friendly nutrients, you will be less prone to gum disease, tooth decay, and even jawbone loss.

So, which nutrients are the most important? Here are a few tooth-building superstars.

Calcium

We all know that calcium builds strong bones and teeth. Most expectant mothers are even aware that the calcium-rich foods they eat during pregnancy will ensure that their babies develop strong, healthy teeth later on. But did you know that calcium is important to your teeth long into adulthood?

On its “Milk Matters” page, the National Institutes of Health tells us that calcium can protect teeth against decay. Furthermore, a 2001 study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine found that elderly people who had adequate amounts of calcium in their diets were more likely to retain their teeth as they aged.

Good sources of calcium include yogurt, cheeses, milk, and leafy green vegetables. If you can’t get enough calcium from your diet alone, talk to your doctor about adding a calcium supplement.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin because your skin can synthesize it during exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D could also be called the healthy smile vitamin. It not only helps your teeth, but it also keeps your gums healthy. Another study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine has shown a connection between low levels of dietary vitamin D and gingivitis. People in the study who had more of the vitamin in their diets had healthier gums.

While most of us get plenty of vitamin D from sun exposure, people who live farther from the equator may need to take a supplement during the winter months.

Vitamin C

Long ago, British sailors were called “Limeys” because their superiors made them eat limes on long ocean voyages. Why? Because limes are rich in vitamin C and without it, the sailors got scurvy and often lost their teeth. While there’s little danger of developing scurvy today, a study in the year 2000 of people who ranged in age from 20 to 90, showed that vitamin C is still necessary for healthy gums. People in the study who had the lowest dietary intake of this essential vitamin were at the highest risk of gum disease.

Vitamin C is perhaps the easiest of vitamins to get from your diet. Rich sources include strawberries, apricots, oranges, lemons and, of course, limes. Red and yellow peppers also have lots of vitamin C, as do tomatoes and brussels sprouts.

Never put off regular dental checkups and cleanings, but in between appointments, watch your diet. Making sure these essential nutrients are a part of your daily intake will ensure that your teeth and gums are as healthy as they can be.

Sensitive Teeth? Try Changing Your Toothpaste!

If you have noticed that your teeth are starting to feel more sensitive than usual, you might initially avoid foods and drinks that seem to cause discomfort. For example, you feel some dental pain when you drink a hot cup of coffee in the morning or while chewing on a cold apple. While it’s a normal reaction to avoid foods or drinks that lead to pain or discomfort, it’s better to determine the cause of the problem and take steps to improve the health and quality of your teeth.

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

– If only a single tooth is sensitive, it could be caused by a cavity. In other cases, the tooth might be cracked. These situations require care from a trained dental professional. You may need to get a filling, a new crown, or a root canal to reduce the tooth sensitivity.

– If many or all of your teeth are sensitive, you may have recently begun consuming larger amounts of foods or drinks that are high in acid. The acid dissolves the protective enamel of your teeth, exposing the dentin. The tooth’s dentin is sensitive to heat and cold as well as sticky or acidic foods that can trigger pain.

– Teeth whitening treatments can also cause tooth sensitivity.

– Increased stress in your life also can indirectly lead to tooth sensitivity. High stress can cause you to grind your teeth while you sleep. If you suffer from teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, one treatment option may be a special night guard appliance to wear while you sleep.

– Weather changes are another factor to consider. If it starts getting cold suddenly, the cool air you breathe in may trigger teeth pain, especially when enamel has been eroded from your teeth.

Reducing Tooth Sensitivity

– Avoid consuming foods and drinks that are high in acid. For example, citrus fruits and their juices can wear down your teeth’s enamel over time. Taper down your consumption to minimize teeth erosion. Try using a straw when drinking acidic juices in order to minimize their contact with your teeth. Rinse your mouth with water after consuming acidic foods and drinks.

– Start brushing your teeth with the softest available toothbrush. Use gentle motions to brush your teeth to minimize abrading their surfaces.

– You may be interested in switching to a new toothpaste to help you with the discomfort. Select a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. You can find a variety of brands at your local pharmacy or supermarket. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, particularly paying attention to how long you can use the product. If your teeth are still sensitive after using the special toothpaste, you should contact our office so we can rule out a more serious underlying problem.

Does Oral Health Affect Your Heart?

Brushing your teeth every day keeps them cleaner, improves your breath, and reduces plaque buildup. But did you know that there may be a connection between your dental health and chronic illness? Some scientific evidence suggests that poor dental health may be linked to cardiovascular disease. Although more research is needed to explore this association, it provides yet another reason to brush your teeth twice per day, floss daily, and visit your dentist regularly.

Over 2,400 people die from cardiovascular disease each day, making it an immense public health problem. Cardiovascular disease occurs when arteries become harder, making it more difficult for blood to easily pass through your circulatory system. Plaques also build up in your blood vessels, further restricting blood flow. Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, affects nearly 75% of the U.S. population, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. It is a chronic inflammatory condition that can cause bone and gum tissue to deteriorate, causing bad breath, swollen or bleeding gums, sensitive teeth, and loose teeth.

If periodontal disease affects your teeth and cardiovascular disease affects your heart, what’s the connection between the two? Scientists have known for years that the two conditions share several risk factors. Increasing age, cigarette smoking, and type 2 diabetes increase your risk of developing both periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease. None of these risk factors, however, explain the causal mechanism connecting the two conditions.

According to a 2009 review article by the editors of the American Journal of Cardiology and the Journal of Periodontology, one possible explanation is inflammation. Moderate to severe periodontal disease triggers chronic systemic inflammation, affecting not only your mouth but also your circulatory system, leading to cardiovascular disease. Another hypothesis is that bacteria from your mouth can cause heart disease. People with periodontal disease have billions of bacteria and other microorganisms teeming in their mouths. Chewing food and brushing your teeth release these bacteria into the bloodstream. The Harvard Heart Letter reports that the types of bacteria that cause periodontitis have been associated with plaque buildup in your arteries.

Not all scientific findings have shown a relationship between the two conditions. In April 2012, the American Heart Association published a scientific statement in the journal Circulation denying that gum disease causes heart attacks or stroke. The American Dental Association’s Council on Scientific Affairs and the World Heart Federation also endorsed the statement, agreeing that there is no conclusive evidence that the conditions are related. More scientific research needs to be performed to determine the exact relationship between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease.

Although the scientific evidence has been mixed, periodontal disease can be very harmful to your health even if it does not lead to cardiovascular disease. It is important to reduce your risk of gum disease by careful tooth brushing, frequent flossing, and regular trips to the dentist!