Bad breath can occur when the bacteria on your tongue break down the proteins in mucus and food–especially sugar and dairy products–which can cause the bacteria to release sulfur compounds. Result: stinky breath. However, bacteria’s sworn enemy is oxygen, which is found in your own saliva. And drinking water makes you produce more saliva, which in turn neutralizes bad breath, says Harold Katz, a dentist in Los Angeles and the founder of TheraBreath.com. Good to Know: Some medications, including antidepressants, blood-pressure drugs, and antihistamines, can cause a dry mouth. If you take them, you may want to increase your water intake beyond the widely recommended eight glasses a day.
Archives for January 2015
Flossing may be more important than brushing. Yes, you need to brush twice a day, but if you’re not flossing, you’re missing a lot of debris. Flossing cleans the sides of the teeth that face neighboring teeth, and even under the gums. This is where decay and gum disease are most likely to occur. The truth is, brushing just won’t effectively reach these areas. And while the floss picks and other flossing devices are good, nothing beats traditional floss for really getting at every crevice.
Bleeding gums are not normal. Some patients will say that their gums bleed only when they floss. But healthy gums don’t bleed during proper brushing or flossing. If yours do, talk to your dentist. During a routine cleaning, some bleeding is normal because dental hygienists are doing such a thorough job and using instruments.
The mouth is part of the body. That may sound obvious, but somehow the mouth is isolated from the rest of the body in many people’s minds and even by our health care system. To wit: Why are there separate insurances for medical and dental care? Disease in the mouth affects the rest of the body and vice versa, particularly when it comes to problems like diabetes and gum disease as well as oral cancers.
How often do you replace your toothbrush? You should replace your toothbrush about every three months because the tips of the bristles become blunted with use. A new brush has bristles with rounded ends, which minimizes damage to the teeth and gums. By the way, if your toothbrush bristles are splaying out, you’re brushing too hard.
What can you do when you can’t brush? Rinse out your mouth with water as best you can and use a napkin or cloth to scrub your teeth — it’s better than nothing!
What’s the biggest misconception about dentists? Some people assume we’re only about teeth, when we can find many more serious issues in the mouth. Other folks think we find problems that don’t exist just to make money. But make no mistake, we don’t enjoy telling patients they have a problem. That said, every time I get on a plane, if I say I’m a dentist, people immediately starting detailing all their mouth issues–partly, I think, because they are happy to have a more impartial audience.