Easy solutions to a common problem

Posted by Dr. Edward Magida | Filed under , , , ,

Do you find your co-workers offering you mints or gum all the time? Do meetings end up with you alone at one end of the table? Don't fret, you could be one of the millions of people who have bad breath. Many people don't even know they are offensive to others because most times you cannot smell your own breath.

If you were to believe all the commercials, then all you would need to do would be to use this mouthwash or that and your problems would be solved. Or would it be? Bad breath is a condition that cannot be cured - only controlled. Most breath care products don't really control the problem. They only temporarily cover things up. After about 15-20 minutes the problem starts to come back because the cause of the problem has not been addressed.

The cause of bad breath is bacteria. The oral cavity harbors millions and millions of odor causing bacteria. As the bacteria digest the foods that pass through our mouths, they give off a gas, methyl mercaptan that contains sulfur. Sulfur is the compound that gives rotten eggs their awful smell. It is this sulfur-containing gas which causes a person's breath to smell bad.

So what is a person to do? Trying to eliminate the bacteria from your mouth is impossible. The bacteria recolonize within hours. Most of the mouthwashes that are available have alcohol in them. Alcohol is a good drying agent, but not the best at killing off the bugs in your mouth. In fact, as the alcohol dries out your mouth, the bacteria tend to proliferate on the dried out oral tissues.

Good oral hygiene is a must when you want to beat bad breath. Brushing 2-3 times daily as well as flossing are needed to control bacteria and the plaque they produce. One largely overlooked area of oral hygiene is the tongue. The top of the tongue, especially towards the back, has many ridges and grooves on it. The bacteria in your mouth thrive in these grooves. What also tends to happen on your tongue is that a coating develops on it. The coating is made up of food debris, bacterial plaque, and bits and pieces of dead tissue from the inside of your mouth. If you clean off the top of your tongue on a daily basis, then most of the gas-producing bacteria will be eliminated for most of the day. There are products called tongue scrapers that will help you do this.

The last piece of the oral hygiene puzzle is to use a mouthwash and toothpaste that contains Chlorine dioxide. There are several on the market. The key thing here is twofold. Because there is no alcohol, the mouth rinse will not dry out your mouth and cause bacteria to multiply at a faster rate. The chlorine dioxide is a compound that has been proven to remove the sulfur gases in your mouth for many hours. It is much more effective at controlling bad breath than any other product on the market.

To gauge the extent of the bad breath and also to measure the effectiveness of the treatment, there is an instrument called a halimeter. This instrument is extremely sensitive to sulfur molecules and measures them in parts per billion.

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Most times treating bad breath simply requires changing the way a person performs oral hygiene procedures. The problem is easily solved.