Health: Bad Breath

(beating bad breath)

Causes of Bad Breath

It is estimated that more than 30 million Americans suffer from chronic bad breath. Oral halitosis or bad breath is caused by bacteria that live and thrive in the warm, moist confines of the mouth, tongue, throat, and related structures. 95% of bad breath problems are typically the result of odor-producing molecules that result from bacterial byproducts. Poor oral hygiene, leaking or broken fillings, gum disease, and the effects of smoking are a few of the more common causes of mouth odor. A comprehensive dental examination can identify if any of the above factors are responsible for chronic halitosis.

In approximately 5% of cases, certain medical conditions such as lung or sinus infections, diabetes, digestive problems, and many prescription medicines can lead to chronic bad breath. When clinical examination and medical history rule these conditions out, the origins of bad breath can typically be traced back to oral bacteria.

Volatile Sulfur Compounds (VSCs) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

In addition to causing cavities and gum disease, oral bacteria also give off gasses called volatile sulfur compounds and volatile organic compounds. Bacteria in the mouth break down food particles, attack oral tissues, and break them down to produce these odoriferous gases. These gases are responsible for bad breath in 95% of individuals suffering from this chronic condition.

Technological Breakthroughs Have Allowed Dentists to Measure These Gases and Trace their Sources

A new invention called a halimeter is a breath gas monitor that allows dentists to measure the odor levels present in the mouth from VSC and VOC gases in parts per billion. With the help of this tool, dentists have been able to measure the extent of bad breath problems and determine which methods are most effective in eliminating the odor causing molecules.

Drugstore Toothpastes, Mouthwashes, Mints, and Sprays Usually Are Not Enough

For many, brushing with ordinary toothpastes, rinsing with mouthwashes and using breath sprays or breath mints commonly found on drugstore shelves have been largely ineffective in eliminating bad breath for long because these treatments do not get to the source of oral malodor. Many products act as perfumes in an attempt to mask odor. Others contain high concentrations of alcohol, colored dyes, and other harsh chemicals which cause dry mouth, accelerate the breakdown of dental restorations and actually increase the formation of calculus or tartar on the teeth and related tissues. The result is often an increase in bad breath brought on by the very products that advertise to eliminate the problem!

A Thorough, Effective, Alcohol-free Home Care System Is Usually the Answer

The most effective systems eliminate bad breath by attacking volatile sulfur and organic compounds. In trials involving thousands of patients with bad breath and/or gum disease, the following regimen has been found to be most effective:

  1. Brush the teeth with a soft brush and toothpaste containing stabilized chlorine dioxide (SCD). SCD eliminates odors by attacking VSCs.
  2. Scrape the tongue with a tongue cleaner. Since most oral bacteria live deep within the projections of the tongue, a tongue scraper is the only effective means of ridding the tongue of trapped bacteria and bacterial byproducts.
  3. Floss after meals and before bed.
  4. Use a special oral irrigator to flush out spaces between the teeth and gums and reach where flossing does not. Studies have found that hydromagnetic irrigators are 44% more effective than ordinary irrigators in minimizing plaque and calculus accumulation.
  5. Rinse with an alcohol free, dye-free mouthrinse. Mouthrinses containg stabilized chlorine dioxide and zinc acetate have been shown to be most effective in eliminating gaseous molecules causing mouth odor.
—By Joseph S. Rubino D.M.D.
Oxyfresh Oral Health and Fresh Breath Products.

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