Understanding Morning Breath

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Here’s a mystery – if we floss and brush before we go to bed and settle down to sleep with a fresh mouth every night, why is it that just mere hours later, we wake up with dreaded “morning breath”?

The simple answer is that during the day, saliva works as nature’s mouthwash by washing away bacteria and the volatile sulfur particles that cause bad breath. When we go to sleep, saliva production decreases and our mouth dries out, providing the perfect environment for odor-causing bacteria to thrive.

Bad breath (or “halitosis”, as it’s officially known) can come from a number of different sources such as a dry mouth, bacterial decomposition of food particles in and around your teeth, and foods (such as garlic and cabbage) that contain certain sulfur compounds. Halitosis may also reflect medical conditions, from chronic infections in the lungs to kidney and liver failure. Even dieting and fasting can slow down the stimulation of saliva flow and result in offensive breath, while talking for long periods of time will dry out your mouth with the same result. Most everyday bad breath, however, can be controlled by following these four simple steps:

  1. Floss between your teeth to remove any hidden food particles;
  2. Brush your teeth after every meal, and brush or better yet, scrape your tongue too.  Afterwards gargle with an antiseptic mouthwash that targets VOC’s like Listerine, Breath Rx or Crest Pro Health – up to 50% of the bacteria in your mouth can be found hiding on the surface of your tongue;
  3. Keep your mouth moist with frequent sips of water;
  4. Maintain regular dental checkups so that your dentist can check for periodontal disease – a treatable cause of bad breath – during your routine gum exam.
  5. Eat yogurt! Health bacteria actually helps to minimize the VOC’s that build up on your tongue and eating crunchy toast in the morning can help to clean off the back of your tongue as well to get the area clean that you can’t get to!

Talk to us if your concerns go beyond morning breath. We’d be happy to give you some “fresh” oral hygiene tips.

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Brushing Up on a Healthy Smile!

Most of us don’t think too much about brushing – it’s just something that we do automatically. When it comes time to teach our kids how to brush though, it’s worth taking a refresher course by sitting in on his or her dental visit while we show them, step-by-step, what the proper procedure is.

The first thing to do is to ensure that your child has the proper toothbrush – one with soft, rounded bristles. Whether they prefer a manual toothbrush or electric toothbrush, the selection of toothbrushes these days can be overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to ask us for suggestions on the one that would be best for your child. In fact, the choice of a toothbrush, especially a toothbrush with a bright pattern or picture of a popular cartoon character, can encourage the child to brush just for the novelty of the toothbrush design.

When you’re comfortable with your child’s choice of toothbrush, you’ll want to review these simple brushing guidelines:

    1. Start cleaning teeth early: “Early” means cleaning the very first baby teeth with a clean, damp cloth every day. When more teeth come in, switch to a small, soft toothbrush; you won’t need toothpaste at first, especially if the child can’t yet spit it out.
    1. Don’t overdo the toothpaste: After about age 2, your child can start using a small amount of training fluoride free toothpaste. A pea-sized amount of toothpaste is sufficient. While fluoride in toothpaste is important for fighting cavities, too much exposure at too young an age can cause white spots in a child’s permanent teeth.  Once a child can spit out the toothpaste, then switch to a child’s toothpaste with fluoride in it.  Child toothpaste has a lower amount of fluoride, as children will still swallow a little of it and, as we said before, too much fluoride will cause white spots on the adult teeth.
  1. Supervise brushing. Brush your child’s teeth twice a day until your child can confidently and properly do it alone, generally children can properly brush all their teeth by 3rd grade.  Before 3rd grade- parents should do a final sweep 1 or 2x a day depending on the child.  It’s great to let the child take turns with you brushing.  They’ll enjoy their independence and take pride in doing a task themselves!  Sticker charts help them remember (and parents too!).

Regular, thorough brushing is a simple, yet effective way to remove the bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease. Take care of your child’s teeth, and they’ll reward you with a lifetime of healthy smiles!

Baby Bottle Blues

Baby bottles filled with milk or juice provide both nutrition and comfort to most babies. However, you need to be aware that your baby’s ritual of falling asleep with a bottle in his or her mouth could lead to a dental condition known as “baby bottle tooth decay” that could destroy your child’s teeth.

The most common cause of tooth decay in babies and toddlers results from the frequent and long-term exposure of a child’s teeth to liquids containing sugar, including milk, formula and fruit drinks. Saliva helps to wash some of this sugar away, but when the child falls asleep, saliva production decreases. Bacteria in the mouth convert the sugars to acids that then etch and subsequently damage the enamel of the teeth, leading to decay.

Baby bottle tooth decay can cause painful toothaches that can not only hinder eating, but can develop into infections and the need to extract baby teeth. If your child’s teeth are damaged or lost too early, he or she may develop poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth and damaged or discolored adult (permanent) teeth.

 

So how best to prevent baby bottle tooth decay? Awareness of the problem is an important first step, followed by these preventative tips:

  1. After each feeding, wipe your child’s teeth and gums with a damp washcloth or a clean gauze pad.
  2. Never allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, juice or any sweetened liquids. If your child refuses to fall asleep without a bottle, fill it with water, and then remove it from his mouth when he falls asleep.
  3. Plan on scheduling your child’s first dental appointment around his or her first birthday, or earlier if you think your child may have dental problems.

The process of tooth decay is quite gradual, and no one may notice anything until the damage is done. Follow the simple steps above to ensure a good start to your child’s dental health.

Don’t be a dental turkey!

When the pilgrims left England on the Mayflower, they were looking for a land free of persecution.  By the time they landed in Massachusetts 66 days later, they found the journey to be a lot more grueling than they originally planned.

Among the many health issues they encountered was “scurvy”- caused by a deficiency of vitamin C.  The lack of fresh food on board, especially fruits, caused horrible symptoms, including spots on the skin, weakness, extreme drowsiness, spontaneous bleeding and eventually death.  Oh yes- this disease also caused the pilgrims to have bleeding gums and tooth loss!

This Thanksgiving, be sure to prepare a meal that is not only delicious but healthy for your teeth and gums too!  Some vitamins and nutrients which are good for your oral health are vitamins A, C and D, phosophorous and calcium.  A delicious Thanksgiving dinner can include them all!

Here are a few things that will make your chompers thank you.

– Turkey is high in phosphorous, which is not only healthy for developing teeth but can actually help rebuild tooth enamel.

– Sweet pototoes are loaded with nutrients including vitamins A and C which are both excellent for gum health.

-Cranberries contain flavonoids which can prevent bacteria from sticking to the teeth and forming plaque.

-Pumpkin pies are loaded with vitamin C and calcium- important for gum health and developing teeth.

“Just like our bodies, our teeth and gums need many essential vitamins and minerals to stay strong and healthy,” says Dr David Schmidt.  “In fact, to ensure proper tooth development and strength, adults, children and seniors alike need a lot of calcium, vitamins and minerals.”

Dr Schmidt goes on to say “Many take oral health for granted, but countless studies have shown that there is a strong association between good oral health and good body health.  Spending time with your loved ones at Thanksgiving is even better when everyone is healthy and happy.”

Thanksgiving is a great holiday, and it can bea  healthy one for you teeth, gums and body as well! Here at Dr David Schmidt’s dental practice, we want you to be healthy! Remember that prevention is key, so be sure to stick with your recommended dental care schedule for the best health of all!  Call (734) 485-2200 to schedule your appointment today!  Enjoy a fantastic holiday and even though your schedule may be hectic this time of year, don’t forget to take care of your teeth, gums and entire body!