1054 Lincoln Drive
Manteno, IL 60950
Midwest Dental Sleep Center
150 E Huron St Ste 1103
Chicago, IL, 60611-2973
BIG CITY DENTAL
3712 N Southport Ave
Chicago, IL, 60613-3719
Basim Shakir, D.D.S. DMD PC
2545 W Peterson Ave Suite 201
Chicago, IL, 60659
Smile for Life Dental
2001 Larkin Ave Ste 120
Elgin, IL, 60123-5808
Bad breath, or halitosis, is a signal that something is not right inside your mouth. It may be as simple as the need to pay more attention to your daily oral hygiene, or it may indicate tooth decay, gum disease, or another medical or dental health problem. Whichever it is, bad breath is a red flag: take another look at your mouth!
Commercial products claim they will make your breath fresher, but the only way to make sure your breath permanently fresh is to practice good oral hygiene. In fact, too many breath mints and hard candies with sugar will lead to tooth decay. If you are constantly using breath mints, breath sprays, or mouth rinses in an effort to cover up your bad breath, realize that you may have a medical or dental care problem that needs addressing.
There are a number of reasons you may experience a bad taste in your mouth, and even be able to smell your own breath. Food may be lodged between your teeth if you are not brushing at least twice daily and flossing regularly. Food particles can be very tiny and can wedge themselves between teeth and below the gum line.
Brushing after meals is important and flossing is imperative to get at the particles that the brush can't reach. Brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper, even if it feels odd at first. Bacteria collects on the tongue and can contribute to bad breath. If you wear removable dentures, take them out at night and clean them thoroughly before you wear them again.
If you neglect your daily hygiene over time, bad breath can become a symptom of more serious dental health problems. Teeth that are not cleaned properly become a place for bacteria to reside as food particles stay in your mouth and decay. Bacteria attack your teeth and gums and cause cavities and gum disease. If this is happening, gum disease will cause an unpleasant odor.
If you are brushing and flossing on a regular basis, but are still experiencing bad breath, you may have teeth that are crooked or crowded, and it may be hard for you to clean between them. If you wear dentures that do not fit properly, they may be trapping food or irritating your mouth. Your bad breath is may be caused by another medical problem: drainage from your sinuses, gastrointestinal problems, kidney or liver problems, or other medical conditions.
Here's what you can do to investigate on your own. Write down what you're eating and notice whether your breath smells bad because of certain foods. Garlic and onions actually cause odor, but the odor is coming from your lungs as you breathe, not from your mouth itself. The odor from these foods is temporary, and will be gone once the food is out of your bloodstream.
Are you dieting? Hunger can contribute to bad breath, because of the chemical changes as your body turns fat and protein into the energy it needs. Are you taking prescription or over-the-counter medications? Add these to the record of what you're eating to see whether there's a relationship between your medications and your bad breath. And don't forget to tell your dentist if there's been a change in your overall health since your last visit.
Are you suffering from dry mouth? Saliva provides constant rinsing in your mouth and washes away food particles. Your dentist may recommend more liquids, or sugarless candy to stimulate natural saliva, and perhaps some of the commercial products that are available to combat dry mouth.
If bad breath continues after you have done your best job of regular brushing and flossing, go see your dental care professional. He or she can tell you whether the odor is caused by an oral problem; if it is not, then your dentist will suggest you see your doctor for a physical check-up.
Regular dental check-ups with a dentistry professional will help keep your mouth healthy and working well. Your dentist can stop problems before they cause trouble, including problems that cause bad breath.
By Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO
Oral and oropharyngeal cancers are malignancies that include the lips, tongue, lining of the cheeks (buccal mucosa), floor of the mouth, gum (gingiva), the area behind the lower wisdom teeth (retromolar trigone), the roof of the mouth (hard and soft palates), the back of mouth and throat (oropharynx), and the sides of the throat (tonsil areas).
Oral and oropharyngeal cancers are most often diagnosed in older adults (average age at diagnosis is between 60 and 63), with over 95% of the oral cancer cases occurring after the age of 45. Men are diagnosed with oral and oropharyngeal cancer twice as often as women. Over the past several decades, the overall number of oral and oropharyngeal cancers has not changed; however, the number of men being diagnosed with the disease is decreasing and the number of women with the disease is increasing.
All forms of tobacco and excessive use of alcohol have been identified as major risks factors for oral and oropharyngeal cancers, and are suspected to account for 75% of all oral and oropharyngeal cancers in the United States. Sun exposure is a risk factor for lip cancer, while smokeless (snuff or spit) tobacco increases the risk for cancers inside the lips and cheek. Other risk factors for oral and oropharyngeal cancer are vitamin A deficiency and Plummer-Vinson Syndrome (a very rare iron deficiency).
The American Cancer Society estimates that 7,800 people will die because of oral or oropharyngeal cancer in the year 2000. Overall, people surviving five years after a diagnosis of oral and oropharyngeal cancer have shown little improvement; half of the people diagnosed with this disease survive five years. Deaths due to oral and oropharyngeal cancer vary greatly with the stage (spread) of the cancer at diagnosis. Oral and oropharyngeal cancers that are detected and treated early, and are localized, have greatly improved survival compared to those that have spread.
Early localized oral and pharyngeal cancers often are not bothersome and therefore go undetected until the cancer has spread. About half of oral and oropharyngeal cancers have spread to the lymph nodes (spread to the neck) at the time of diagnosis or treatment. Three sites within the mouth are high-risk for the development of oral and oropharyngeal cancer: the floor of the mouth, the sides of the tongue, and the soft palate complex (soft palate, inside the retromolar trigone, and tonsil area).
Detection of an oral and oropharyngeal cancer also identifies an individual who is at high risk for developing or having a cancer of the respiratory system and upper digestive tract (larynx, lung, and esophagus).
Warning signs and symptoms of oral and oropharyngeal cancer:
Pain may not be present with early oral and oropharyngeal lesions. Traumatic oral lesions will resolve or greatly improve after the cause of the trauma is removed (such as a sharp tooth or denture). A biopsy, to rule out or confirm a malignancy, is indicated if an oral lesion persists after two weeks. A dentist and/or physician should evaluate all suspicious lesions.
By Denise J. Fedele, DMD, MS