Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bad Breath

Has this ever happened to you?
All of us on occasion have issues with our breath. This weekend while on a camping trip I ate a nice meal loaded with onions. I was told by a thirteen-year-old that my breath was stinky. Fortunately, this was something that I could easily remedy.

Many of us have had similar experiences. Some of these experiences are mildly embarrassing, whereas others can have more profound detrimental consequences.

In order to improve the condition of chronic bad breath, we must first determine the source. The source of bad breath can be from the mouth, throat, sinuses or anywhere along the respiratory or digestive tracts.

Tongue Scraping
When the source is from the mouth, it can come from various areas. In the absence of disease, the most common culprit is the tongue and oral mucosa (soft tissue). The tongue has an abundance of surface area that when not brushed, will harbor bacteria and other debris. Simply brushing the tongue and soft tissue can help immensely .

Dry mouth is another common culprit of bad breath.  A moist mouth helps to cleanse our mouths and digest our foods.  There are several things that can cause dry mouth.  Some of these things include mouthwashes, mouth breathing, certain diseases and infections, and medications.    Mouthwashes are often believed to help eliminate bad breath, but the ones with a high alcohol content, such as Listerine, actually exacerbate the issue.  The reasoning for this is the alcohol in the mouthwash causes a drier mouth. 

Tooth decay is another common source of bad breath. When the teeth are badly decayed, there is no amount of brushing that will alleviate the smell. The decay must be removed by a dentist by either having a tooth restored or extracted.Moreover, when the periodontium (gums and bones) is infected, there is a distinct odor that can be detected from the other side of a room. No amount of brushing will help in this case either. The infection must be removed.

If the source of the bad breath is from an area that is not the mouth, then a referral to the appropriate specialist is indicated. Whatever the source, treatment is almost always indicated, because in many cases it is emanating from pathogenic bacteria that causes detrimental effects much worse than just a bad odor. In other words, the bad breath may be the least of your worries, but may be the symptom that motivates you enough to seek treatment for something that is dangerous to your overall health.

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit

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