Bad breath is a common issue with a lot of people. When it gets to the point that it doesn't go away it becomes known as chronic halitosis. The way bad breath is caused is by decaying particles of food and bacteria that pass into the bloodstream and to the lungs, where odor is released from breathing.
Individuals with bad breath will often spend lots of money on products that treat the symptoms of bad breath but often neglect to take the steps to address the root cause of bad breath - such as bacteria, food decay particles staying between the teeth, on the gyms and on the tongue. In most cases, the best medicine is good daily oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing and rinsing. The rules are the same for those that wear dentures.
There are other conditions such as gum disease that can cause persistent bad breath. Under normal conditions, your saliva acts to cleanse your mouth of the particles that can decay and later cause bad breath. Some people have a condition known as dry mouth, which diminishes the production of saliva. There are also atypical causes of bad breath: eating garlic or onions, taking certain medications or smoking cigarettes or cigars.
In cases where there is a persistent case of bad breath; it could signify a larger health problem like a gastrointestinal, respiratory or sinus problem.
While over-the-counter mouthwashes and rinses will temporarily freshen breath but will only serve to hide the actual cause. The American Dental Association acknowledges that there is some effectiveness of anti-microbial mouth rinses that are shown to reduce plaque and gingivitis. Good oral health habits will always contribute towards preventing and reducing halitosis.
Cavities & Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is caused by many different things: in medical terms; cavities are called caries, which are caused by long-term destructive forces acting on tooth structures such as enamel and the tooth's inner dentin material.
Some of the destructive forces include frequent exposure to foods rich in sugar and carbohydrates; soda, candy, ice-cream - even milk. Left inside your mouth from non-brushing and flossing, these materials break down quickly, allowing the bacteria to do their dirty work in the form of harmful, colourless sticky substance called plaque.
Plaque works together with leftover food particles in your mouth to form harmful acids that destroy the enamel and other tooth surfaces. If cavities are not treated early they can lead to more serious issues, requiring treatment such as root canal therapy.
The best methods to prevent cavities are:
Symptoms of a potential cavity and how to find out if you have one:
- Maintain good oral hygiene; including brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing and rinsing
- Your own body's saliva is an excellent cavity fighter because it contains special chemicals that rinse away many harmful materials
- Chewing good sugarless gum will stimulate saliva production between brushings
- Using special sealants and varnishes can also be applied to stave off cavities from forming
- Unusual sensitivity to hot and cold water or foods
- Localized pain in your tooth or near the gum line
- Teeth that change colour
Baby Bottle Tooth
Baby bottle tooth decay is caused by sugary substances in breast milk and certain types of juice, which combines with saliva to form pools inside a baby's mouth.
If left untreated, it can lead to premature decay of your baby's future primary teeth, which can later hamper the proper formation of permanent teeth. One of the best methods of avoiding baby bottle tooth decay is to not allow your baby to nurse on a bottle while going to sleep.
Encourage your toddler to drink from a cup as early as possible to help stave off the problems associated with baby bottle tooth decay.
Other methods of preventing baby bottle tooth decay:
- Try not to share saliva with the baby through common use of feeding spoons or licking pacifiers. After each feeding, wipe your child’s gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or washcloth.
- When your child’s teeth come in, brush them gently with a child-size toothbrush and a smear (or grain of rice sized amount) of fluoride toothpaste until the age of 3.
- Brush the teeth with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste from the ages of 3 to 6.
- Supervise brushing until your child can be counted on to spit and not swallow toothpaste—usually not before he or she is 6 or 7.
- Place only formula, milk or breast milk in bottles.
- Avoid filling the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice or soft drinks.
- If your child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean—don’t dip it in sugar or honey.
- Encourage your child to drink from a cup by his/her first birthday.
Gingivitis is the official medical term for early gum disease or periodontal disease. In general, gum disease can be caused by long-term exposure to plaque. The sticky, colourless film on teeth that forms after eating or sleeping is plaque.
Gum disease originates in the gums, where infections form from harmful bacteria and other materials left behind from food.
Early warning signs can include: chronic bad breath, tender or painful swollen gums and minor bleeding after brushing or flossing. However, gingivitis can often go unnoticed. The infections will eventually cause the gums to separate from the teeth, creating even greater opportunities for infection and decay.
Gingivitis can cause major tooth loss in adults however, it is avoidable. If it is untreated, more serious problems will occur such as abscesses, bone loss or periodontitis can occur. Periodontitis is treated in a number of ways. One method is called root planing that involves cleaning and scraping below the gum line to smooth the roots. If effective, the procedure helps the gums to reattach themselves to the tooth structure.
Believe it or not, even pregnancy can cause a form of gingivitis. This has been linked to the hormonal changes a woman's body undergoes that promotes plaque production.
Teeth grinding is also referred to as bruxism. While the habit is viewed as harmless and mostly annoying, some people develop bruxism from an inability to deal with stress or anxiety. However, teeth grinding can actually change your bite relationship and worse, severely damage your teeth and jaw over a long period of time.
Teeth grinding can cause abrasion to the chewing surfaces of your teeth. Eventually the abnormal wear and tear will prematurely age and loosen the teeth and open them up to problems such as hypersensitivity (from the small cracks that form, exposing your dentin.) Bruxism can also lead to severe jaw and facial pain, as well as headaches.
A few clues that you may be suffering from bruxism are:
- Your jaw is often too sore, or you hear popping sounds when you open and close your mouth
- Your teeth look abnormally short or worn down
- You notice small dents in your tongue
Bruxism can be treated, to a small degree. A common therapy involves using a special appliance worn while sleeping. Less intrusive, though just as effective methods could involve biofeedback and behaviour modification, such as tongue exercises and learning how to properly align your tongue, teeth and lips.
Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that grow in the back corners of the upper and loser normal adult mouth. Unfortunately, a lot of people experience problems from wisdom teeth and and in most cases this is because the teeth come up too close to the already existing permanent teeth, causing crowding, improper bites and other issues.
If wisdom teeth are causing you a problem and are not pulled; they can sometimes become impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth can be extremely painful and harmful to your oral health. Symptoms are easy to spot: inflammation, pain and different types of infections.
Most individuals get their wisdom teeth removed to avoid future issues or serious problems. In general, you do not need to have the four wisdom teeth as it does not actually hamper your ability to bite down properly, speak or eat.