Got Bad Breath?

February 2, 2012

There’s no way around it – bad breath is embarrassing. Chronic bad breath can seem like a nemesis, constantly foiling your plans and preventing you from engaging in social activities. We know what to avoid food-wise: anchovies, onions, garlic, etc., but what else can you do?  Consider these helpful tips to help you overcome bad breath and start smiling again!

1. Brush and floss daily

This seems like a no-brainer, but let’s be honest. How often do you really floss? If you’re like most people, then it’s about as often as you flip your mattress. Debris builds up between teeth, decays, and emits a foul odor. Flossing removes the debris, and it’s absolutely essential for fresh breath.

2. Scrape your tongue

Bacteria hides beneath your taste buds, but a gentle, cost-effective tongue scraper can effectively remove a good percentage of this bacteria. Tongue scrapers last for years, and it might just be the most important thing you do to eliminate odor-causing bacteria.

3. Replace your toothbrush

Your toothbrush’s damp bristles can become a host for bacteria over time. Replace your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months for a fresh approach to fighting bad breath.

4. Use alcohol-free mouthwash

Buyers beware! Many popular mouthwashes contain alcohol, which can mask odors, but ultimately exacerbates the problem by contributing to dry mouth. Consider using an alcohol-free rinse or a baking-soda solution to actually rid your mouth of bacteria.

5. Drink water

Sipping water throughout the day can wash away debris and prevent dehydration, a common cause of bad breath.

6. Go green

Certain herbs and spices act as natural breath fresheners that kill odiferous bacteria. Try adding fresh mint, parsley, coriander, tarragon, rosemary, or cardamom to your diet. Steep these herbs in hot water for a few minutes and enjoy a breath-freshening after-dinner elixir.

7. Introduce vitamin-rich foods

Studies show that foods rich in vitamin D (yogurt, cheese, milk) and Vitamin C (citrus fruits, berries, melons) can counter bad breath and create an environment inhospitable to bacteria.

8. Avoid liquid offenders

Minimize your intake of notorious bad-breath allies like coffee, wine, and whiskey.

9. Chew sugar-free gum

While this isn’t a permanent solution, sugar-free gum can stimulate the saliva glands and provide temporary relief. And because it’s sugar-free, it won’t contribute to decay, which can heighten the problem. Try to find gum that


Oral dryness, or xerostomia as it is also known, is the health condition in which due to malfunctioning, the salivary glands do not produce enough saliva.

However, people struggle quite rarely with such a condition in its toughest form, and the symptoms generally last for shorter periods of time.

Dry mouth is a condition which brings about bad breath, which is an even more frustrating condition. Saliva production is extremely important, and when there is not enough saliva in the mouth, bacteria and microbes multiply faster and may cause other unpleasant symptoms, such as the bad breath condition itself.

One of the main causes of xerostomia is dehydration. When the human organism does not receive enough fluids, the mouth will be dry too. This is why it is extremely important to hydrate properly, and make sure you drink at least 2 liters of fluids every day.

Dehydration may easily be a condition which is triggered by other underlying health complications, such as constant vomiting, diarrhea, sweating in excess or feverish states.

Then, yet another important cause of xerostomia might be factors such as smoking, or chewing tobacco regularly.

Cigarettes contain chemical ingredients that actually hinder saliva production; therefore, smokers can experience quite frequently xerostomia.

People who are undergoing some medical treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation, might also experience short term or long term oral dryness. It has been scientifically proven that these invasive medical procedures actually destroy the salivary glands.

Yet another quite common side effect of chemotherapy is frequent vomiting, and this might bring about xerostomia as well.

Prescription medication, such as the psychotic drugs might also have as side effect the oral dryness condition. These drugs are specifically prescribed for patients struggling with conditions such as Bipolar Disorder or different stages of depression.

The main ingredients in these drugs affect the secretions and glands of the human organism, hence the possibility of struggling with oral dryness when taking these types of prescription medications.

Oral dryness can also be a side effect of health conditions such as diabetes, Mumps Hypertension, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease or Sjorgen’s syndrome.

Whatever the reason may be, if dry mouth lasts long enough cavities start popping up all over the place. It is very important to see your dentist to figure out what kind of preventative treatment would work for you.

Shocking. One word that sums up the latest study conducted by the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. According to their research, chronic periodontal disease indicated, strangely, by missing molars, appears to be associated statistically with breast cancer.
The study involved 3273 randomly selected subjects aged 30-40 years. Of those selected, 1676 (group A) received an oral examination. Group B, consisting of the remaining 1597 did not receive an examination. 26 subjects in group A and 15 subjects in group B had breast cancer. The incidence of breast cancer was 1.75% in subjects who had periodontal disease and/or any missing molars, and 0 in subjects who had periodontal disease but had no missing molars. For periodontally healthy subjects with no missing teeth the breast cancer incidence was 1%. For group B the respective incidence was 0.94%. Female gender (odds ratio (OR) 13.08) and missing any molar in the mandible (OR 2.36) were explanatory variables for breast cancer. Of the subjects with periodontal disease and any missing molars in the mandible 5.5% had breast cancer in comparison to 0.5% of the subjects who had periodontal disease but no missing molars in the mandible (P < 0.02).

Periodontal disease begins innocently enough as gingivitis, but unfortunately, the disease progresses very quickly if it’s not treated properly, and promptly. Once periodontal disease becomes irreversible, your risk for losing teeth increases substantially. Taking the above information into consideration, missing teeth, especially molars, appears to be the somewhat strange connection between periodontal disease and breast cancer.

I really strongly advise everyone to take any signs of “pink in the sink” very seriously. The first sign of gum disease is red, bleeding gums. Believe it or not, bleeding gums is not a normal occurrence when you are brushing your teeth. If you are consistently finding your gums bleed while you are brushing your teeth, speak with your dentist about how to halt the progression of gum disease; before it’s too late.


From The Science of Dentistry

More than a pair of upturned lips, the smile is the most scientifically studied human facial expression. In her new book, Lip Service, Yale psychology professor Marianne LaFrance, PhD, draws on the latest research—in fields from biology to anthropology to computer science—in an effort to shed some light on the happy face. Here, six facts that may make you, well, you know.

People with big grins live longer. In a study published last year, researchers pored over an old issue of the Baseball Register, analyzing photos of 230 players. They found that on average, the guys with bright, bigmouthed beams lived 4.9 years longer than the players with partial smiles, and 7 years longer than the players who showed no grin at all. We can’t credit wide smiles for long life spans, of course, but smiles reveal positive feelings, and positive feelings are linked to well-being.

Smiles exert subliminal powers. When study subjects are shown an image of a smiling face for just four milliseconds—a flash so quick, the viewers don’t consciously register the image—they experience a mini emotional high. Compared with control groups, the smile-viewers perceive the world in a better light: To them, boring material is more interesting, neutral images look more positive, even bland drinks seem tastier.

There are three degrees of happiness… An article in the British Medical Journal reported that it is indeed possible to spread the love: Within social networks, when one person is happy, the feeling migrates to two people beyond her. So if you smile, a friend of a friend is more likely to smile, too.

…and two types of smiles. Genuine smiles and fake smiles are governed by two separate neural pathways. We know this is true because people with damage to a certain part of the brain can still break into a spontaneous grin even though they’re unable to smile at will. Scientists speculate that our ancestors evolved the neural circuitry to force smiles because it was evolutionarily advantageous to mask their fear and fury.

To spot a faker, check the eyes. When someone smiles out of genuine delight, a facial muscle called the orbicularis oculi involuntarily contracts, crinkling the skin around the eyes. Most of us are incapable of deliberately moving this muscle, which means that when a person fakes a smile, her orbicularis oculi likely won’t budge.

Smiles have accents. When reading facial expressions, different cultures home in on different parts of the face. In the United States, we focus on mouths; the Japanese, by contrast, search for feeling in the eyes.


How much do we love a bright smile? About a billion dollars’ worth—that’s the amazing amount Americans spend on over-the-counter tooth whiteners every year. But which products actually deliver the dental dazzle? Read on for the most effective picks for pearlier whites.

Whitening Strips

According to recent scientific research, consumer magazine testing and good old customer feedback, dental whitening strips brighten better than anything outside of a professional in-office visit. The best? Crest 3D Whitestrips—their 9.5% peroxide blend bleaches teeth up to three shades lighter when worn once a day for two weeks. The newer “advanced seal” means these grip teeth better than old-school Whitestrips, so they don’t shift around. Crest also gets high marks for other offerings in their whitening line, including Professional Effects and their more affordable Vivid package.

Gels and Trays

If you prefer to precisely place your tooth-whitening solution or like the idea of using tray systems to achieve a more dazzling grin, there are some very effective choices on the market. The GO SMiLE Whitening System offers neat little ampoules that you pop open and brush on for quick and convenient lightening. The solution not only gets thumbs up from those with sensitive choppers, it tastes surprisingly pleasant. (GO SMiLE also offers a Pre-Whitening Gel pack for a speedier and more spectacular shade change.)

Confining a peroxide gel in a tray is a more powerful method of stain removal, as the cleaning agent won’t be compromised by the mouth’s saliva. It may also irritate sensitive teeth and gums, so we’d advise using over-the-counter trays (or any intensive teeth whitening product) only after seeing your dentist for a once-over. That said, an effective mouth-guard-style whitening choice is Aquafresh White Trays—these are pre-filled with a cleaning solution for convenience and fit average-sized mouths best.


No whitening toothpaste can match the stain-blasting power of strips, gels or tray systems as even those containing peroxide don’t stay on your teeth long enough to bleach, but the best ones are a great addition to your “get gleaming” arsenal. They’ll scrub away superficial surface stains so that the results from your last intensive whitening routine don’t quickly fade. If you want that bright smile to survive, try to brush after every meal with one of our recommended toothpastes. (Note: dentists recommend you use over-the-counter whitening kits only once or twice a year to avoid enamel damage, so it’s smart to extend the results with the right toothpaste.)

Which toothpastes clean the best? Experts love Colgate Total, as it provides superior cleaning, fluoride protection and an antibacterial kick to boot. Arm & Hammer Advance White also gets super-high marks, as does Colgate ProClinical toothpaste. Our bargain bet is the cult fave Ultrabrite Advanced Whitening—it’s got the chops to thoroughly clean your choppers.

Rinse, Floss and Gum

While over-the-counter teeth whiteners vary in their power, you’ll get approximately three to four shades lighter with the best strips and trays, a little less brightening with brush-on gels and about one shade of noticeable difference with superior whitening toothpastes. What about mouthwash, dental floss and chewing gum that purports to polish? They won’t really whiten on their own, but work well as part of a tooth-polishing tag team. Listerine’s Whitening Vibrant White Pre-Brush Rinse acts as a booster for more intensive stain removing procedures. (If you’re getting older and concerned about weakening enamel, try their tooth-strengthening variation—Listerine Whitening Plus Restoring Fluoride Rinse.)

We all know the “must floss” mantra—so how about doing your dental duty and getting a little blast of extra cleaning and freshening at the same time? SuperSmile infuses their floss with Calprox to clean and baking soda to promote healthier gums. And speaking of gum, SuperSmile’s whitening chewing gum is sweetened with Xylitol, a cavity inhibitor, and the very act of chewing it helps discourage new stains from forming.


From Science of Dentistry


Do you know what’s lurking on your toothbrush?  Your toothbrush is loaded with germs, say researchers at England’s University of Manchester. They’ve found that one uncovered toothbrush can harbor more than 100 million bacteria, including E. coli bacteria, which can cause diarrhea, and staphylococci (“Staph”) bacteria that cause skin infections.

But don’t panic. Your mouth wasn’t exactly sterile to begin with.

Mouthful of Bacteria

“The bottom line is, there [are] hundreds of microorganisms in our mouths every day,” says Gayle McCombs, RDH, MS, associate professor and director of the Dental Hygiene Research Center at Old Dominion University.

That’s no big deal. Problems only start when there is an unhealthy balance of bacteria in the mouth. McCombs says.

“It’s important to remember that plaque — the stuff you’re removing from your teeth — is bacteria,” says dentist Kimberly Harms, DDS, consumer advisor for the American Dental Association. “So you’re putting bacteria on your toothbrush every time you brush your teeth.”

Could Your Toothbrush Be Making You Sick

Probably not. Regardless of how many bacteria live in your mouth, or have gotten in there via your toothbrush, your body’s natural defenses make it highly unlikely that you’re going to catch an infection simply from brushing your teeth.

“Fortunately, the human body is usually able to defend itself from bacteria,” Harms says. “So we aren’t aware of any real evidence that sitting the toothbrush in your bathroom in the toothbrush holder is causing any real damage or harm. We don’t know that the bacteria on there are translating into infections.”

Still, you should exercise some common sense about storing your toothbrush, including how close it is to the toilet.

Don’t Brush Where You Flush

Most bathrooms are small. And in many homes, the toilet is pretty close to the bathroom sink where you keep your toothbrush.

Every toilet flush sends a spray of bacteria into the air. And you don’t want the toilet spray anywhere near your open toothbrush.

“You don’t store your plates and glasses by the toilet, so why would you want to place your toothbrush there?” McCombs says. “It’s just common sense to store your toothbrush as far away from the toilet as possible.”

You also wouldn’t eat after going to the bathroom without first washing your hands. The same advice applies before brushing your teeth, McCombs says.

Toothbrush Storage Tips

Once you’ve moved your toothbrush away from the toilet, here are a few other storage tips to keep your brush as germ-free as possible:

  • Keep it rinsed. Wash off your toothbrush thoroughly with tap water every time you use it.
  • Keep it dry. “Bacteria love a moist environment,” Harms says. Make sure your brush has a chance to dry thoroughly between brushings. Avoid using toothbrush covers, which can create a moist enclosed breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Keep it upright. Store your toothbrush upright in a holder, rather than lying it down.
  • Keep it to yourself. No matter how close you are to your sister, brother, spouse, or roommate, don’t ever use their toothbrush. Don’t even store your toothbrush side-by-side in the same cup with other people’s brushes. Whenever toothbrushes touch, they can swap germs.
From The Science of Dentistry


Have you ever used floss, rinsed out your mouth and seen some pink in the sink after spitting?  This is extremely common, but why does it happen?  To better understand why bleeding happens after flossing, let’s first go into depth about how the gum tissue works and reacts to different things.

Gum tissue is something that is extremely important in the mouths of those that have teeth as they keep their teeth in place and don’t allow them to wiggle loose.  When flossing, many people stimulate the gums which cause them to bleed.  The bleeding can mean several things, but most commonly it is because the gums have not been flossed in a while.  This can lead to oversensitive gums that can bleed when stimulated too hard.  While this is the most common reason for bleeding gums after flossing, there are a few other reasons.  These reasons include signs of gum disease, which is called periodontal disease. This disease basically involved the breakdown of the gum tissue.  Contrary to popular believe, periodontal disease does not just happen to old people, but it can happen to any age of person depending on how they care for their teeth. If you get some subtle bleeding, there are several things that you can do to reverse periodontal disease from getting any worse in your mouth.

The best thing to do is to continue dental flossing regularly and brushing your teeth.  Keeping the mouth clean will help to reduce the amount of plaque that is left in your mouth to attack your teeth. By flossing on a regular basis, your gums should start bleeding as they will get used to having stimulation.  If they continue to bleed after flossing regularly, you may want to see your dentist as you may have a more advanced stage of periodontal disease which may need the attention of your dentist in order to reverse.  Another great idea is to use a mouth wash that can get into the hard to reach places in your mouth.  This will also help to kill germs and keep them from attacking the gums and the tooth enamel.  By doing this, you will be able to reduce the bleeding of your gums and promote good oral health.  Having a healthy mouth is extremely important as it can make a huge difference when it comes to having less cavities and other issues in your mouth.


The Science of Dentistry