Three Surprising Causes of Bad Breath
March 16th, 2022
Rumor has it that the Queen of England doesn’t allow garlic in the palace. And, even if you have no royal duties in the near future, it might be a good idea to avoid foods like garlic and onion before a big presentation or a first date. But if your diet is filled with mint, fresh apples, and parsley and you still worry about your breath, here are some common causes for bad breath that you might not have considered.
- A Slip of the Tongue
We brush and floss to remove food particles and bacteria. After all, bacteria that linger in the mouth produce acids that damage tooth enamel and cause bad breath. But there is one important brushing target you might be overlooking—your tongue.
Remove food particles and bacteria on the surface of the tongue with a gentle brushing after you have finished cleaning your teeth. With a dab of toothpaste, brush the top of your tongue gently from back to front. There are also tools called tongue scrapers available that are specifically designed to remove food particles and bacteria from the tongue’s surface. However you choose to clean your tongue, remember to move from the back to the front, and always clean gently.
- A Dry Spell
We spend the vast majority of our day not brushing our teeth. What helps keep breath fresh even during the hours between brushings? Saliva! As saliva bathes the teeth throughout the day, it not only washes away food particles and bacteria, but also neutralizes the enamel-damaging acids that are produced by bacteria. Yet another benefit? Saliva is not a friendly environment for the oral bacteria that produce volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs). It is these compounds that cause most of the unpleasant odors we know as bad breath.
If you are drinking the recommended amount of water each day, you are helping your body produce saliva and fight bad breath. Sometimes, a medical condition called dry mouth, or xerostomia, interferes with saliva production. Talk to Drs. Jennifer Kim, Brandon Eash, Edmond Massabni, Yunji Lee, and Rajshree Mulay about ways to deal with dry mouth. Solutions as simple as drinking more fluids or chewing sugarless gum can help, or we can suggest over-the-counter products or prescription medications if needed.
- A Bad Night’s Sleep
We’re all familiar with the concept of morning breath. As we sleep, our saliva production naturally decreases. It’s like a nightly version of dry mouth. Without normal levels of saliva, bacterial growth takes off, VSC’s are produced in greater quantities, and we wake up wondering what on earth happened to that fresh feeling we had after brushing the night before.
Unfortunately for snorers, nighttime brings more problems. Snoring leads to mouth breathing, and mouth breathing creates an even drier environment where oral bacteria increase more quickly. If you find you are consistently waking up with an especially unpleasant case of morning breath, you could be a chronic snorer without even realizing it. If you discover or suspect you have a snoring problem, talk to Drs. Jennifer Kim, Brandon Eash, Edmond Massabni, Yunji Lee, and Rajshree Mulay or your GP. Snoring can have serious health consequences, so let’s discuss possible solutions.
One important note to end on: if you have eliminated all the obvious causes of halitosis but still have persistent bad breath, give our Milford, MA office a call. Chronic bad breath can be a symptom of serious gum disease, oral infections, illnesses such as diabetes or kidney disease, and other medical conditions that should be treated as soon as possible. If the topic is bad breath, let’s make sure garlic is the only thing you have to worry about.
What are dental sealants and how do they work?
March 9th, 2022
A dental sealant is a liquid that is applied to the teeth. The sealant hardens and provides a protective coating that is designed to reduce cavities and create a smoother tooth surface. Dental sealants are clear or white; they do not take away from the appearance of teeth. You can think about this treatment as being similar to varnish that protects a wood floor.
Sealants are not the same as fluoride treatments. The application is similar, but sealants are a semi-permanent protective coating. Drs. Jennifer Kim, Brandon Eash, Edmond Massabni, Yunji Lee, and Rajshree Mulay and our staff recommend that sealant applications for children begin soon after molars erupt, first molars around the age of six, and second molars around the age of 12.
Having sealants applied is not uncomfortable at all. First, your child's teeth will be cleaned and dried. A gel is applied, which helps the sealant adhere to the tooth, and then is rinsed away. Your child's teeth are dried again and the sealant is applied. A few seconds of exposure to a light source may be used to cure the sealant and make it semi-permanent. Sealants should last for a long time, normally between five and ten years.
The coating on the surface of your child's teeth reduces the amount of acid contact. Normal acids in foods that are consumed can eat away at the surface of teeth. Bacteria also react to plaque formation and create more acid in the mouth. These small pits or weakened areas are prone to caries or cavity formation. Preventing cavities is a much better choice than drilling and filling damaged teeth.
A sealant also helps to smooth the chewing surfaces of your childn't teeth. The smoother surface is not as likely to retain small particles of food and bacteria. Your child's mouth stays cleaner and food is not left behind to form acids. The protective application can also be used on other teeth that have a rough surface, to protect the grooves or pits from decay.
After the sealant is applied, your child still needs to take proper care of his or her teeth. Regular brushing and flossing is required. Drs. Jennifer Kim, Brandon Eash, Edmond Massabni, Yunji Lee, and Rajshree Mulay may recommend fluoride treatments to strengthen and protect your child's teeth further.
If you have any concerns about sealants, please discuss them with during your child's next appointment at Milford Smiles. We want your little one's teeth to stay healthy for life.
Are you at risk for sleep apnea?
March 2nd, 2022
If you are one of the more than 12 million North Americans who suffers from sleep apnea, Drs. Jennifer Kim, Brandon Eash, Edmond Massabni, Yunji Lee, and Rajshree Mulay and our team want you to know we can help. Sleep apnea, a disorder that causes frequent disruption to your body’s sleep patterns, is also potentially dangerous, as it causes abnormal pauses in breathing or very shallow breathing during the night.
For those who suffer from sleep apnea, it may seem impossible to wake up feeling rested and energized. You may, for example, sleep for eight hours, but your body might have only received three or four hours of quality sleep.
Besides losing a good night’s sleep, the risk of heart attack and stroke have been linked to sleep apnea. Other conditions associated with sleep apnea include depression, irritability, high blood pressure, memory loss, and sexual dysfunction.
Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax to the point of inhibiting natural breathing. The muscles used to support the soft palate relax and the airway closes, causing breathing to stop for anywhere from ten to 20 seconds, which is dangerous because it lowers the oxygen level in the brain.
Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age, and CPAP devices (continuous positive airway pressure), among other treatments, are often prescribed for sleep apnea treatment. Another treatment option is an oral sleep apnea appliance, which positions your mouth in a way that brings your lower jaw forward and opens up your airway for unobstructed breathing.
At Milford Smiles, we truly care about the health and well-being of our patients. In fact, we regularly screen our patients for sleep disorders during their regular checkups, and we will refer you to a sleep apnea specialist if an issue is detected. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call at our Milford, MA office if you think you have sleep apnea or if you have any questions or concerns!
Thirsty? We Have Some Ideas on Tap
February 23rd, 2022
No, we don’t mean the latest foamy offering from your favorite microbrewery. When you’re thirsty, one of the best options available is literally at your fingertips—tap water, straight from your faucet. It might not be the most adventurous choice, but drinking a tall glass of fresh tap water is refreshing in so many healthy ways.
Water conveniently available at home is much more than a convenience. We need to keep hydrated, because our bodies are made to run on water. To name just a few of its benefits, water provides nutrients to organs and cells, eliminates waste, regulates our temperature, and protects our joints and delicate tissues. Drs. Jennifer Kim, Brandon Eash, Edmond Massabni, Yunji Lee, and Rajshree Mulay and our Milford, MA team will tell you all about the importance of proper hydration when it comes to your mouth, gums, and teeth, but here are a few highlights:
- We need to be hydrated to produce enough saliva. Saliva, which is more than 90% water, helps prevent cavities and protect enamel by both washing away bacteria and balancing acids in the mouth which can cause decay.
- Tooth enamel is so strong because it’s made of calcium and phosphate. These minerals are leached from our enamel by both bacteria-produced acids and dietary acids. Saliva also contains calcium and phosphate, and, with fluoride, restores these minerals in our enamel, leaving teeth stronger and less likely to develop cavities.
- As a bonus, a quick rinse with water when you can’t brush after eating is a great way to remove food particles left behand—especially healthy when you’ve had sugary or acidic foods.
If you want to reduce waste, one of the easiest ways to do so is to use tap water instead of bottled water.
- Bottled water has a carbon footprint. It takes energy (and additional water) to create plastic and glass bottles, to label them, and to transport them. Water piped into your home from local sources? No bottles, labels, or long road trips necessary.
- Water bottles should be recycled. Unfortunately, many cities don’t offer, or have stopped offering, recycling. Plastic and glass empties end up in landfills, littering our neighborhoods, or in our waters.
Getting your daily hydration from bottles can add up quickly.
- Bottled water can cost hundreds of times as much as tap water. While local water prices vary, the average gallon of tap water costs less than a penny. No matter what kind of sale your local store is offering, bottled water will never be the bargain tap water is.
- When you buy many small bottles instead of a few larger ones, or choose more expensive “designer” water, your costs can mount up even more.
- When you need to bring water with you for work, sports, or other activities, consider filling a reusable bottle with water from home.
Getting the recommended amount of fluoride in your diet is one of the single best things you can do for your dental health. Fortunately, many communities make this easy for us by providing fluoridated drinking water.
- Fluoride works with the calcium and phosphate in your saliva to create stronger enamel, so cavities can’t form as easily when your teeth are exposed to plaque and food particles.
- Fluoride helps strengthen your child’s permanent teeth as they develop, and helps prevent cavities in both baby teeth and permanent teeth as children grow.
- If your community doesn’t offer fluoridated water, ask Drs. Jennifer Kim, Brandon Eash, Edmond Massabni, Yunji Lee, and Rajshree Mulay for the best way to get the fluoride you need to protect your teeth.
For the good of your body, your planet, your wallet, and last, but most certainly not least, the health of your teeth and gums, consider a glass of water. So many benefits—and you have them all on tap!