Over 60,000 Bahamians suffer from chronic bad breath, called Halitosis.
It is embarrassing and socially debilitating.
The public spend lots of money on products to disguise mouth odor. Despite using chewing gum, mints, sprays or mouthwashes; we are for the most part covering up the cause. We must get to the root and make some sense out of this social dilemma.
In this column, we will discuss a permanent solution to bad breath.
The main cause of mouth odor is dental disease. Many persons have the false impression that mouth bacteria are all the same. That’s not true. People with dental disease, especially periodontal disease have different bacteria that cause bone loss and bleeding associated with the disease. Some people have stinkier breath than others because some types of bacteria smell more potent than others.
A significant cause of bad breath is periodontal disease and cavities.
Both of these diseases for the most part is treatable. A thorough periodontal examination is the first requirement, along with appropriate digital dental x-rays. If periodontal pockets are identified, signifying bone loss or cavities then this should be immediately treated. The bacteria and your body’s response to the bacteria is the cause of odors, bone loss and early teeth loss.
The tongue houses over 2000 bacteria as a result of a breakdown of proteins and food residue. Many people benefit from using tongue cleansers with which you scrap the top of the tongue. Mouth odor from the tongue is the most common direct cause, mostly originating at the back of the tongue. Studies show that the best treatment for this are mouth rinses containing Chlorine Dioxide and Chlorhexidine, which is found in several products. At Center for Specialized Dentistry, we use Oxyfresh for mouth odors. Rinsing with only a capful of chlorine dioxide mouthwash, in conjunction with tongue scraping on the back of the tongue is the treatment to solve the problem.
Also, the extent of bad breath is measurable. At CSD we have a special machine that measures the odor that comes out of your mouth. It is called a Halimeter. It measures the rotten egg gas seen in Hydrogen Sulfide, the fecal smell in Methyl Mercaptan and the rotten meat odor found in Cadaverine gases. These are the gases usually responsible for bad breath. Ask your dentist about this cutting-edge technology.
Bad breath can also be caused by certain foods, like onion and garlic. Some of the components of these foods get right into our blood stream and bath our lungs and skin in that odor. Could the challenge be a stomach problem, respiratory infection or liver disease? Sure, it is possible; however, most of mouth odors come from inside the mouth.
Here are the steps to permanently get rid of bad breath:
- Get a comprehensive dental exam.
- Brush for at least two minutes, two times a day and floss daily.
- Scrape the top of the tongue every time you brush your teeth or at least once per day with a tongue scraper. Your tongue is the greatest harbor of bacteria that causes mal-odor.
- Incorporate a mouthwash, preferably a chlorine dioxide rinse to help kill bacteria.
- If you have dentures, remove and clean regularly.
- Have your teeth professionally cleaned at least twice per year.
Additional “At-Home Cures”:
- Drink at least eight 12-ounce glasses of water per day.
- Eat a relatively low-fat diet, and include fruits and vegetables.
- If you smoke, begin a program to quit. If you don’t smoke, for heaven’s sake, don’t start.
- Regularly rinse with warm saltwater (one teaspoon salt with 10 ounces water).
With a good dental and periodontal examination and using some of the latest diagnostic treatment tools, you could be well on your way to solving the problem of stinky breath.
Dr. Kendal V. O. Major is Founder and CEO of Center for Specialized Dentistry which is a comprehensive family dental practice operating in Nassau and Freeport. He is the first Bahamian Specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He also is a certified Fast braces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue, Nassau at (242)325-5165 or [email protected]