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.

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.

Why the heck do you need to know that?

When you come in for your dental visit, you may notice that we do a lot more than examine your teeth and gums.

One of the most important parts of your visit is when we ask you questions about your general health. But many people have said to us:

“What does that have to do with my dental check up?”

The answer…a lot!

More and more research is being published linking dental health to overall health, and at Dr David Schmidt’s Family Dental Practice we are concerned about both!

Did you know that diabetes, especially when it is undiagnosed, can be a huge factor in gum disease and eventually cause tooth loss?

A recent study by Columbia University concluded:

“Gum disease is an early complication of diabetes.” It continues:

“Since 70% of adults se a dentist at least once per year this is a perfect opportunity to screen for diabetes and other diseases.

According to a recent article in The British Dental Journal, it works the other way around too, as gum disease can be a contributing factor in heart disease, oral cancer and other illnesses.

Are you taking any medications, either prescription or over the counter? Many of these can lead to dry mouth, gum inflammation and other dental problems.

And it’s even more complicated for women, as hormonal changes, pregnancy and oral contraceptives can cause many changes in dental health. (Isn’t everything more complicated for women?)

So the good news is, unlike a visit to your physician- you get to keep your clothes on and you won’t be poked and prodded anywhere other than your mouth! But as you can see, it is extremely important that we know about your total physical health and any medications you are taking. Not only can we save your teeth – we may actually save your life!

If you want to know more about your dental health and how it relates to your overall health, please let us know. If you have any questions or want to schedule your next appointment, just give us a call at (734) 485.2200. We are here for you!