Nothing ruins a date, a doctor’s visit, or even a simple conversation like bad breath. There’s nothing more awkward than to be on either the receiving or giving end of bad breath. I once had a teacher in college who had awful breath. I was only a freshmen, so faculty intimidated me like none other, so most of us endured his breath. Long story short, I taught myself calculus that semester!
The scientific term for bad breath is halitosis. Most everybody will experience bad breath in their life, particularly of the morning variety. Some bad breath causes are more severe than others, and most causes of bad breath can be treated. Bad breath happens naturally when an influx of bacteria is not being broken down in our mouths.
The cause of bad breath can be a number of things, but here are the six most common cause of bad breath.
Most everybody experiences morning breath. The reason being is because the lack of saliva production when we sleep.
We produce more saliva during the day and when we eat. The enzymes found in saliva “are essential in beginning the process of digestion of dietary starches and fats. These enzymes also play a role in breaking down food particles entrapped within dental crevices” (source).
So when our mouths are not producing saliva, our mouths get dry, making it a perfect environment for bacteria to make way, which then causes bad breath. Hence, morning breath.
You might be a little more of a mouth breather, which tends to dry out your mouth. If you do breath with your mouth, you might have more issues with bad breath.
You Haven’t Eaten
When we don’t eat, we don’t produce saliva. This goes hand in hand with dry mouth. This specifically is sometimes referred to as “Hunger Breath.” It’s not that hunger is making your breath smell. It’s the fact that you’re not producing regular saliva. When you’re not producing saliva, bacteria gathers more easily, and thusly it produces that sulfuric bad breath smell we all hate so much.
We’ve got morning breath, hunger breath, and now let me introduce you to “Smoker’s Breath.” Smoker’s breath is a little more specific and has more factors than just dry mouth. Although dry mouth still plays a part, considering inhaling that smoke tends to dry out your mouth, which as we know is a big factor for halitosis.
But more specifically, “the most immediate way that cigarettes cause bad breath is by leaving smoke particles in the throat and lungs. This effect is typical of nearly any tobacco product that involves inhaling smoke or rolling it around in the mouth. The smell of a freshly smoked cigarette can linger in the lungs for hours” (source).
Being sick can cause bad breath for a variety of reasons. First of all, when we’re sick (allergies or a cold), our bodies have produced too much mucus. When we’re sleeping and our mucus is draining, some of us might experience something called “post-nasal drip” which is mucus collecting in the back of your throat. A very uncomfortable feeling, but in regards to your breath, the mucus collection in the back of your throat is a great food source for bacteria that causes bad breath. I know how much we want to stay in bed when we’re sick, but it’s important to brush your teeth, floss, and rinse with mouthwash when we’re sick to rid ourselves of unnecessary bacteria (source).
Strep throat can also cause some serious bad breath. Strep is a bacterial infection, and as you know bacteria is the culprit of bad breath.
Not only that, some medications, especially antihistamines, diuretics, antipsychotics, and muscle relaxants, cause dry mouth. Dry mouth is, as we know, bad breath.
Bad breath might be caused by a cavity or two in your mouth. If you have a cavity that has not been treated, chances are you’re collecting more bacteria. Getting a cavity is caused by plaque buildup. If you build up too much plaque it starts to eat away at your tooth, which causes it to decay, or give you a cavity. That cavity is already caused by bacteria which causes bad breath, but on top of that, your daily oral hygiene routine is not getting the bacteria rid of the bacteria that is in the cavity. Thusly, that cavity and the bacteria collecting in it might be the cause to your bad breath. It’s important to get your cavities treated, and even more important, prevent them from happening (source)!
Drinking Too Much Alcohol
Alcohol is a little different when it comes to bad breath. When we consume a copious amount of alcohol, our bodies treat it as a toxin. We start to break it down to a less harmful substance. Most of it will be converted into acetic acid, but some of it is released through our sweat and our respiratory system. If you’ve ever had a hangover, that’s the reason you’re sweating so much. But, when it comes to bad breath, some of the toxins are leaving through our breath. Literal toxic breath! Also, the smell can come from our stomach processing the alcohol and making us burp a very unpleasant smell (source).
All of us will experience bad breath at some point, but at least now you know the cause, which will allow you to treat it a little more effectively. Get some water in you. Eat a regular diet. Quit your smoking. Cut back on the drinking. And have a happy health mouth!
With today’s easy access to information and all sorts of “alternative facts” floating around out there, it’s easy to get confused about what’s believable and what should be ignored. In particular, there are plenty of warped “alternative facts” about keeping a good healthy mouth. Let us help you by letting you know which myths need to be ignored immediately!
Myth: White Teeth are Healthy Teeth
A glamorous white smile doesn’t necessarily mean you have healthy teeth. Most people focus on the surface area of the teeth to determine whether they have a healthy smile. But it’s important to know that our teeth is more than just the visible surface area. Some people with the whitest smile have severe issues past the gums or even behind the teeth. They may never floss! It’s not to say that white teeth DOESN’T equal a healthy smile, it’s just to say this is not a determining factor. Not to mention the fact that our teeth will naturally discolor as we age. So, even though you may have shiny pearly whites, you want to make sure you visit the dentist regularly to check between and behind the teeth for any issues as well as keep up with a daily oral hygiene routine that doesn’t just involve brushing (source, source).
Myth: Brushing Bleeding Gums is Bad For You
Admittedly, it can be off putting to see your spitting up some blood when you brush your teeth. You may even notice it as you floss. Too many people assume it’s from brushing too hard and so they choose to take it easy on the brushing or even skip a few brushes and opt for rinsing with mouthwash instead. This is the WRONG thing to do. You want to consider brushing your teeth, because this is the first step to dealing with bleeding gums. If your gums are bleeding, you may have a case of gingivitis or plaque buildup beyond your gumline. It’s important to continue with your brushing routine as well as make an appointment with your dentist, as soon as possible. Another tip when dealing with bleeding gums is instead of rinsing with water, rinse with an antimicrobial mouthwash (source, source).
Myth: Tooth Decay & Cavities is Mainly Caused by Sugar
This is not to say sugar DOESN’T cause cavities and tooth decay, but it is not the MAIN cause. It’s not an issue of staying away from sugar all together, but knowing what to do when consuming more sugar than normal (a party, Thanksgiving, etc.) and keeping up with a daily oral hygiene routine. Bacteria in the mouth needs sugar to survive, so when you consume more sugar, you’re basically feeding the bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria, sugar, and acid all leave to an unhealthy mouth. Instead of completely staying away from sugar, watch your sugar intake and brush your teeth or rinse after consuming sugar. It’s important you understand that it’s not the sugar that is causing your cavities, it’s the lack of oral hygiene (source, source).
Myth: Brushing More Makes Your Teeth Healthier
This doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t be brushing your teeth more, and it also depends on other factors and who you are. Brushing your teeth 2-3 times a day is a pretty good routine to keep up with. Once you start brushing above that, it can maybe start causing damage to your enamel. Plus, if you’re using a more abrasive toothpaste and using a harder toothbrush, you may be doing more damage to your teeth. Keep the brushing to 2-3 times a day with a soft to medium toothbrush. And doing anything out of the ordinary, such as eating something with a lot of processed sugar, can call for a quick brush (source).
Myth: It’s Not Necessary to Visit the Dentist
I’m not just saying this because we’re a Dentist office, I’m saying this because it is the absolute truth! Visiting the dentist is often seen as more of a luxury than a necessity, but that’s a common misconception. Part of keeping up with a good oral hygiene routine is visiting the dentist at twice a year. Your dentist can address a lot of issues you cannot check, such as things happening below the surface, gum disease, and even detecting for oral cancer. Make sure you’re making your appointments and not skipping out on seeing us on a regular basis (source).
There are two kinds of people: those who know exactly what kind of toothpaste they use and NEVER change it and those who go down the oral hygiene aisle and become completely overwhelmed with the choices offered.
Whichever group you fall into, however, you may want to pay attention, because as we get older and as our bodies change, our teeth may need something different. There’s a reason why there are so many choices of toothpaste, and no, it’s not to just drive us completely insane.
Let me ease your stress by giving you this handy guide on choosing the best toothpaste for your teeth. Before we begin however, it’s important to make sure whatever toothpaste you use contains fluoride. “Fluoride is important as it is effective in preventing tooth decay, strengthening enamel, and lowering the risk of cavities” (source).
If you have yellow teeth……chances are you’re trying to whiten them up. First off, you should know that your teeth have been turning yellow for reasons. The most common reasons are probably your eating, drinking, or smoking something that’s staining your teeth. Coffees and teas are pretty big culprits to turning your teeth yellow. We might suggest brushing your teeth after consumption. A general rule, if it’s staining your tongue, it’s probably staining your teeth.
However, if your teeth are already yellows and you’re looking for your pearly whites to be, well, white, then we suggest looking for the toothpastes that have the word WHITE or WHITENING in it, such as Crest 3D White Luxe Glamorous White Toothpaste or Rembrandt Deeply White + Peroxide Whitening Toothpaste. These aren’t really bleaching solutions as they are a solution to removing stains from your teeth. We don’t really want to just cover up the stains. We want a toothpaste that will tackle the problem by getting rid of them. Whitening toothpastes usually do the trick (source).
If you have cavities……at this point, you definitely want to come in and see us. And the biggest question we get is if you can reverse a cavity without needing a filling. You can with a rigorous oral hygiene routine and upkeep. But, just so we’re clear, if you have a severe cavity that has not been treated, you need it filled!
But none the less, if you have issues with cavities, choosing a toothpaste that has words such as “prevent & repair,” and you also want to make sure it has a high fluoride content. Fluoride is “a mineral that can fill in these spots and harden the surface of the enamel.” It’s also important you don’t use a tartar-control toothpaste. These toothpastes stops mineral from forming on your teeth. When using these toothpastes, you may not want to rinse. Definitely spit, but if you skip the rinsing, you leave the fluoride in and working overtime on your teeth. We want the good minerals to help with your cavities. Colgate Sensitive Prevent and Repair Toothpaste and Colgate PreviDent 5000 Plus are the types of toothpastes you need, and you may even need a prescription for a high fluoride toothpaste from your dentist (source).
If you have sensitive teeth and/or gums……you might be brushing too hard! Go figure! Many people have the misconception that brushing hard is equivalent to brushing well. But in fact, you could be causing more damage to your teeth and gums,and you might have sensitive teeth now.
However, that’s not always the case. There are many reasons you could have sensitive teeth, and there are toothpastes that can help with that. When shopping for a toothpaste that accommodates to your sensitive teeth, look for “strontium chloride” or “potassium nitrate” ingredients. These desensitize your teeth and gums. Sensodyne products are obviously toothpastes specifically for people with sensitive teeth, and this is a good way to go (source).
If you’re trying to prevent/treat tartar build-up…As previously noted, if you’re trying to treat a cavity and treating tartar buildup as well, you’re not going to get very far. Tartar prevention toothpastes rids the teeth of minerals, which, as we said, includes the cavity fighting mineral, fluoride. Tartar is simply hardened plaque that hasn’t been removed. It’s incredibly difficult to take off, and on top of that, it can be painful when you visit your dentist. Obviously brush your teeth and floss regularly, but use a toothpaste that fights tartar. You still want a good fluoride toothpaste but also find a toothpaste that also contains sodium polymetaphosphate. These two ingredients together attack the tartar. Crest Pro-Health Advanced Active Strengthening toothpaste is a good tartar treating selection (source, source).
If you’re a toddler……then I’m amazed you can read this! Joking aside, if you’re shopping for toothpaste for your toddler you want to look for something that’s not too harsh. You still want the important fluoride ingredient, however, other toothpastes that treat tartar and plaque build up might be too abrasive for your kid’s brand new teeth! Definitely stick to the kids toothpaste, look for fluoride, and maybe even consider the flavor. You want your kid to enjoy brushing their teeth. Make sure you encourage them to spit and only give them a small amount of toothpaste, as too much ingested fluoride is bad for you toddler. Fun Colgate Kids Minions toothpaste contains fluoride and has a fun flavor you kid should love (source).
If you have dentures……your oral hygiene routine changes, but not too much. It’s still important to brush your teeth regularly, but there are some added steps you want to go over with your dentist. Some people with dentures opt for tablets and solutions to clean their dentures. Talk about that with your dentist. If you plan on brushing your dentures, look for a sensitive toothpaste, such as Colgate Sensitive Complete Protection and use a soft bristled toothbrush (source).
Here are some tips on brushing your teeth properly: