Craig S. Karriker, DMD, P.A.- 400 South Granard Street, Gaffney, SC 29341, (864) 487-0710

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By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
March 21, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: bad breath   tongue scraper  
RemovingBacterialCoatingWithaTongueScrapercanReduceBadBreath

Although usually not considered a serious health condition, bad breath is nonetheless one of the most embarrassing conditions related to the mouth. Although some serious systemic diseases may result in mouth odor, most cases originate in the mouth or nose. Bacteria are usually the culprit — certain types of the organism can excrete volatile sulphur compounds, which emit a rotten egg or rotten fish smell.

The largest breeding ground for bacteria is the tongue, typically in the back where saliva and hygiene efforts aren’t as efficient in removing food remnants. A bacterial coating can develop on the surface of the tongue, much like the plaque that can adhere to teeth; the coating becomes a haven for bacteria that cause bad breath.

There seems to be a propensity in some people who exhibit chronic bad breath to develop this tongue coating. To rid the tongue of this coating, people with this susceptibility could benefit from the use of a tongue brush or scraper. These hygienic devices are specifically designed for the shape and texture of the tongue to effectively remove any bacterial coating. Toothbrushes, which are designed for the hard surface of the teeth, have been shown not to be as effective in removing the coating as a tongue scraper.

Before considering using a tongue scraper you should consult with your dentist first. If you suspect you have chronic bad breath, it’s important to determine the exact cause. Using a tongue scraper is unnecessary unless there’s an identifiable coating that is contributing to the bad odor. It’s also a good idea to obtain instruction from your dentist on the best techniques for using a tongue scraper to be as effective as possible and to avoid damaging soft tissues from over-aggressive use.

In addition, don’t neglect other hygiene habits like brushing, flossing and regular cleanings. Removing as much bacterial plaque as you can contributes not only to a healthier mouth but also pleasanter breath.

If you would like more information on the tongue and halitosis, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tongue Scraping.”

By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
June 26, 2013
Category: Oral Health
TheTopTenMainCausesofBadBreath

Nobody wants “halitosis,” commonly known as bad breath. Americans spend an estimated $3 billion per year on breath freshening products like candies, chewing gum and sprays, but that really just masks the problem. Bad breath is clearly a major concern. Treating bad breath effectively means understanding and treating what causes it.

And The Top Ten Main Causes of Bad Breath Are:

  1. You just woke up — because saliva flow is reduced during the night, it is normal to wake up with a dry mouth and “morning breath.”
  2. It was something you ate — garlic, onions, coffee, alcohol, spicy foods and more — are common causes — luckily they are temporary. Brushing, flossing and mouthrinses may help.
  3. It was because you didn't eat — fasting can result in bad breath. In hunger, especially starvation, a person's breath may actually smell like nail polish remover (acetone). This comes from ketones that are produced as the body metabolizes fat for energy production.
  4. “Xerostomia,” literally dry mouth — from plain old dehydration, and certainly many medications can cause dry mouth leading to bad breath. Drinking sufficient quantities of water is helpful and important.
  5. Smoker's breath — If you are a smoker, the telltale odor lingers — for days and weeks. Try quitting for multiple health benefits.
  6. Ineffective oral hygiene — buildup of food remnants and bacteria on and between your teeth and gums is a prominent cause of bad breath.
  7. Bacterial accumulation on the back of your tongue — large numbers of bacteria accumulating in the nooks and crannies, where they may give off volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), which have an odor reminiscent of rotten eggs.
  8. You may have tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease — one of the main causes of bad breath is gum disease. Studies have shown that the more VSCs a person has on their breath, the more likely it is that they have gum disease. Openly decayed teeth can also be a cause of bad breath.
  9. You may have a problem with your nose or tonsils — Nasal odors exhaled from the nose and mouth may be a result of sinus infections, foreign bodies, or infections of your tonsils.
  10. Serious health conditions — like diabetes, lung disease and cancer can also be systemic (general body causes of bad breath) that do not emanate from the mouth.

Because some of these problems are serious and need treatment, don't just try to cosmetically camouflage bad breath. Make every effort to remove the film of bacteria (plaque) from your teeth and gums every day; if this does not cure your bad breath, contact us for an assessment, diagnosis, and treatment.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about bad breath. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bad Breath: More than just embarrassing.”

By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
April 27, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: bad breath  
BanishBadBreath

Treating bad breath is big business. Just check your local drug store or supermarket and you'll find a mind-numbing array of mints, gums, mouthwashes, sprays, strips and other products that promise to sweeten your breath and make you (or your mouth at least) irresistible. But most of these products only mask halitosis (from the Latin “halitus” – exhalation, and Greek “osis” – disease) and some even contain ingredients, like sugar, that contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. In most cases, for enduring, healthful results, nothing beats a trusty toothbrush, toothpaste and floss, used faithfully and correctly, along with periodic dental checks and cleanings.

Oral bacteria are the number one reason for noxious breath. More than 600 types inhabit our mouth, and some of them emit awful odors — predominantly volatile sulfur compounds characterized by a “rotten egg” smell) — as they consume remnants of food trapped in our mouth. Brushing and flossing regularly, especially after eating, can dislodge food trapped between teeth (interdental) and under the gums (subgingival), depriving microbes of a ready-made meal. It also disrupts the buildup of sticky plaque (microbial “biofilms”) where odor-causing germs can flourish.

When cleaning your mouth, pay special attention to the back of the tongue. It is the primary location for generating halitosis because it is drier and less efficiently cleansed by saliva and normal oral activity than the front. Our office can instruct you on proper oral hygiene including the gentle use of a tongue scraper or brush.

Sometimes more involved periodontal techniques such as scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) are called for; antibiotics may be useful in targeting the offending microbes. If tooth decay and/or periodontal (or gum) disease is contributing to halitosis appropriate treatment is necessary.

Remember that foul breath is just a symptom of some underlying condition. If diligent oral care at home doesn't do the trick, our office can help you get to the root of the problem and determine the appropriate therapy.

If you would like more information about halitosis and ways to prevent or treat it, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bad Breath.”

By Craig S. Karriker, DMD, PA
July 25, 2012
Category: Oral Health
DoesMouthwashCureBadBreath

In our office, many of our patients are always asking us if over-the-counter (OTC) mouthwashes or mouthrinses are truly effective tools for curing bad breath. Unfortunately, nearly all of them merely mask any odorous smells temporarily — regardless of how refreshing they taste. There are mouthrinses available that are effective for treating gingivitis and tooth decay, but you must visit our office to obtain a proper diagnosis and a prescription for them. Reality is that a mouthrinse alone can't cure bad breath; however, there are products available that can make a positive impact on your dental health. The key is to match the right mouthrinse to your specific dental need.

  • OTC mouthrinses that contain about 0.05% sodium fluoride are an effective tool that when combined with good oral hygiene can significantly reduce the development of tooth decay.
  • OTC mouthrinses that contain alcohol, triclosan, sanguinaria extract, zinc and/or essential oils such as menthol can somewhat help reduce the bacteria in plaque, which in turn can reduce gum inflammation (gingivitis) and bad breath when used in combination with proper brushing and daily flossing.
  • Prescription mouthrinses containing chlorhexidine may be more effective in helping to control both gingivitis and tooth decay in certain circumstances. This is because chlorhexidine inhibits the formation of dental plaque by preventing bacteria from sticking to your teeth.

While bad breath may seem unbearable, it is often treatable. The key is to determine and then address what is causing your bad breath. A simple trip to our office for a proper exam, assessment and thorough cleaning along with improved oral hygiene may just do the trick. Contact us today to schedule a consultation for an examination and treatment plan.

Learn More

To learn more about mouthrinses, read the Dear Doctor article, “Mouthrinses.”