7 Ideas to Enhance Your Family’s Oral Health

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If tooth decay and gum disease are two oral health problems you want your family to avoid this year, then we have 7 great tips to help your family have a healthy year for their teeth and gums. Remember, most gum disease and tooth decay is preventable if you practice good oral hygiene habits. Make sure you and each member of your family spend a couple of minutes a day flossing and brushing and that you make good choices to enhance your oral health. For a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums, that’s not a lot to ask, is it?

Begin at six months. Start your child’s dental care around six months, which is when their first tooth generally appears. Initially, use a damp cloth or soft brush to wipe your baby’s teeth. Once a child turns two, they can brush for themselves with adult supervision.

Consider sealants. Just 33% of kids in the United States receive dental sealants, but it is a great way to protect your child’s permanent molars when they come in at age 6. The sealant is applied by your dentist to the chewing surfaces on the molars and provides protection against decay.

The daily duo. Be sure to brush twice a day and floss once a day to avoid gum disease and tooth decay. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, so it’s not something you want in your mouth.

Finish your meals the right way. Rinse your mouth right after a meal with water and/or an antibacterial rinse. Another tip is to chew a piece of sugar-free gum right after you eat to enhance the flow of saliva, which washes away bacteria and reduces acid.

Practice smart eating. Be sure to include whole foods in your diet because they will provide your teeth and gums the nutrients they need to stay healthy. That means to be sure to eat nuts, grains, dairy products, vegetables and fruits on a daily basis.

Say no to soda. Sugary sodas are “double trouble” because of their high sugar content and because people tend to sip them over extended periods of time. Bacteria in your mouth love sugar, because they produce acid when they break down the sugar. Acid erodes the enamel on your teeth, which can then lead to decay.

See your dentist regularly. Make an appointment for a dental check-up and cleaning every six months if you want to stay on top of your oral health. Your dental hygienist will get rid of built-up plaque on your teeth and check for tooth decay. Your dentist will also check for signs of oral cancer or gum disease.

 

SOURCE: WebMD

 

11 Tips to a Happy and Healthy Mouth in 2018

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If you’re a fan of making New Year’s resolutions – and sticking to them – then we have 11 helpful tips for keeping your smile bright and your mouth happy in 2018. Even if you aren’t a fan of New Year’s resolutions, our list is still a great place to start on the road to good oral health this year.

Modifying your diet can whiten your teeth

If you’re a fan of black tea or red wine - or a smoker - your teeth are going to suffer. Dark foods and beverages stain your teeth which equals a dingy smile. Gravies, dark juice and colas are also hard on your smile. To counter these dark foods, brush right after you eat or drink them. Eating an apple is also a great on-the-go solution to clean your teeth.

Toss your toothbrush regularly

Get yourself in the habit of getting rid of your toothbrush every three months. That includes the head of your electric toothbrush. Bacteria settle into the bristles of your brush over time, and after a couple of months, you are just transferring a bunch of bacteria to your mouth every time you brush. Plus, worn bristles don’t clean your teeth as well. In fact, plan for the year by getting out your 2018 calendar now and note every 90 days to change your toothbrush.

Eat foods that “scrub”

Raw carrots, celery and popcorn – along with apples – are great foods that naturally scrub your teeth. Eat them at the end of a meal if you know you won't be able to brush your teeth right after eating. They are great for when you can’t get to your toothbrush and they have the added value of being high in vitamins and fiber.

Use a natural mouthwash like apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a great natural multi-purpose mouthwash. Gargle with it in the morning before your brush. It will help remove stains on your teeth, whiten them, and zap bacteria in your mouth.

Brush your teeth with baking soda once a week

Baking soda will naturally remove stains and make your teeth whiter. Use it the same way you would your toothpaste.

Be a boss of your floss

Less than half of Americans say they floss daily – which is a definite oral health mistake for those who don’t floss regularly. It just takes two minutes once a day. To make it easier to get in a daily floss, stash packages in your purse or backpack, in your desk, and next to your bed. That will make it much more difficult to find excuses not to floss.

Switch your gum

If you like gum, then be sure to use sugar-free gum. For an even better result, purchase gum with xylitol, a non-sugar sweetener that has been proven to reduce plaque. Plus, gum produces saliva, which washes away food particles in your mouth and acid from your teeth.

Brush at optimal times to enhance the results

Brush when you first get up in the morning and just before you go to bed at night. Why? Because saliva – which is a natural plaque fighter – dries up when you sleep, so you should be sure to avoid getting into bed with a mouth full of plaque. When you get up in the morning and brush, your toothbrush will remove any plaque that built up during the night. Plus it will get rid of bacteria, which causes bad breath!

Twice a day keeps the dentist away

Spend two minutes twice a day brushing your teeth and you are almost guaranteed to reduce the bad news (cavities) when you visit your dentist the next time.

Moderate your sugar intake

Bacteria in your mouth love sugar. When sugars aren't cleaned off your teeth, bacteria feed on them and produce acids. The acids then combine with bacteria, food particles and saliva to form plaque, a sticky film that covers the teeth. Once plaque forms, the acids wear away the enamel, which is the tooth's hard outer surface. These tiny openings in the enamel represent the first stage of cavities. So cut down on your sugar intake. Swap water for soda, or sugar-free gum for your regular gum.

See your dentist regularly

Twice a year is how often you should be seeing your dentist. Book a dental hygiene appointment every six months for a professional cleaning of your teeth and gums. Plus, your dentist will take a thorough look in your mouth and spot any potential issues before they become full-blown emergencies.

Sources: Delta Dental, Colgate, WebMD, Stealth Health/Reader’s Digest

 

 

Bad Breath Remedy Plan for Holiday Parties

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Bad Breath Can Be Uncomfortable for You and Those Around You

There's so much to worry about at Christmas, from the presents to what you should wear to event - but we often forget about our breath.

Bad breath can not only be embarrassing but it can also be a sign of something more serious like gum disease.

Whether it’s rich food, office drinks or pre-party exercise, you'll be shocked to learn how lifestyle changes during the festive season can impact bad breath.

Horrified at mouth odor, many people immediately reach for the mints. But this can create a vicious cycle in which they eat more sugar, which creates more bacteria and more bad breath. And then they eat even more mints, exacerbating the problem. Here’s some tips to keep your breath smelling great for the festivities.

Eat Smart

We’re all tempted to eat more of the things that we shouldn’t over Christmas and often don’t realize the effect that constant grazing can have on our breath.

·        Beat the buffet: Be aware that Christmas party favorites like walnuts, brazil nuts, smoked salmon and cream cheese canapés can contribute to bad breath, as they provide a source of sulphur-producing bacteria which can cause oral odor. Other foods with sulphur-producing bacteria include dairy, meat, fish, egg, nuts and beans, so mix it up when you’re piling up your plate.

·        Pass the parsley: Christmas platters are filled with parsley and mint, so don’t leave them on the buffet table! Chew on a fresh sprig of parsley, as the chlorophyll in these green plants are a known breath deodorizer and neutralize odors.

·        Munch on Veggies: Vegetables can also help to keep your breath fresh. Carrots and celery are full of water and vitamin C that flush out your mouth and kill odor-causing bacteria. Head to the crudité table at the party to snack on the veggies between each breath-spoiling course.

·        Bite on a Lemon: Citrus fruit causes your mouth to produce more saliva, which acts as a cleaning agent to rinse away plaque and bacteria. If you find yourself in a smelly situation, ask for a lemon with your water. Bite into the lemon, and swish the juice around your mouth for a few seconds.

Brush Your Teeth

Before you head out to the party, make sure to brush your teeth to get rid of all the bacteria that you have accumulated throughout the day. Pay special attention to your tongue; a lot of foul-smelling bacteria like to hang out there. For office parties, keep a toothbrush and toothpaste in your desk at work so you can slip off to the bathroom before your office turns into a party zone.

Drink Water

When you have a dry mouth, it can make bad breath worse. Since alcoholic drinks are drying agents, they can exacerbate a bad breath problem. Sip on a glass of water in between each drink to stay hydrated. Bonus: This can also help to prevent hangovers caused by dehydration.

Chew Sugarless Gum

If you still can't shake that feeling that your breath smells terrible, or if you simply overdid it on the garlic, chew on a stick of sugarless gum. Chewing sugarless gum will not replace brushing your teeth, but it can cover up odors and increase saliva production to rinse away foul-smelling bacteria.

Source: Colgate.com, Express.CO.UK

 

 

 

Don’t Leave Oral Health Behind During Holiday Travel

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10 Tips to Keep a Healthy Mouth on Holiday Trips

We don’t have to tell you: the winter holidays mark one of the busiest seasons of the year. With shopping, parties and vacations jam-packed on the calendar, it’s no wonder that many people take shortcuts when it comes to oral health maintenance during this time. If you are traveling during the holiday season and you want to avoid a January surprise cavity (or worse), here are some simple tooth travel tips to help you keep your smile intact.

1.      Don’t leave home with a toothache! If you suspect you have any lurking problems in your mouth, schedule an appointment prior to your travel date so that you don’t end up with a tooth emergency while out of town. Research emergency dental clinics in your destination city and have those numbers handy to ensure that your time off is as relaxing as possible.

2.      No one ever regrets buying travel-sized gear. Keeping a travel toothbrush, floss and toothpaste on hand in addition to trial sizes of your favorite toiletries reduces your packing time, and not just during the holidays.

3.      Carry a travel kit. If your luggage gets lost, at least your oral health won't be compromised.

4.      Splurge on probiotics! Diseases and germs run rampant in buses, airports and other communal places that you might encounter during your trip. Researchers believe that probiotics are not only good for the gut; they may help maintain optimal oral health too!

5.      Chewing gum is a limitless oral-health-on-the-go tip! Bringing sugar-free gum with you has multiple benefits; not only does it taste good and make your breath smell fresh, but the gum can help remove food that may be stuck in your teeth as well, acting as a secondary toothbrush.

6.      Instead of digging out that spare toothbrush that stays in your travel kit, consider spending the spare change and buying a new one for your next trip. Old faithful has served you well, but travel toothbrushes tend to get tossed around in a variety of germ-ridden environments. While you’re at the store, purchase a toothbrush cover with holes for ventilation and some extra floss in case your current supply unexpectedly runs out (it happens to all of us).

7.      Pack smart. Make sure everyone has packed their own toothbrush. Sharing toothbrushes can spread cavity–causing bacteria, even among family members.

8.      Use a toothbrush cap. Protect your toothbrush from germs with a travel toothbrush cap. Once you reach your destination, make sure to take the cap off because it can lock in moisture and create a breeding ground for germs.

9.      Keep healthy snacks around. Pack healthy snacks such as veggies, nuts and string cheese. Avoid crackers and chips, which will stick around in your mouth and can feed the harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay.

10.   Drink plenty of water. Drinking water rinses away bad-breath–causing bacteria that sit at the back of your tongue. The bacteria can also result in gingivitis and other oral health issues.

And of course, keeping up with regular brushing and flossing is as important as ever! Don't let your oral health routine fall by the wayside just because your regular work and school schedules are disrupted.

Sources: DeltaDental.com, HighlandParkPerio.com

 

 

Overbrushing: Watch Out for Too Much of a Good Thing

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Toothbrush Abrasion Leads to Sensitive Teeth and Gums

Brushing regularly is considered vital for healthy teeth and gums, but dental experts warn that you can overdo a good thing. Known as “toothbrush abrasion,” overbrushing can lead to sensitive teeth and receding gums.

Vigorous brushing can wear down the enamel on the teeth as well as damage and push back the gums, exposing the sensitive root area. Receding gums can also lead to other dental problems such as periodontal disease and cavities on the roots of the teeth and may lead to the need for treatments such as fillings, root canals and tooth extraction. According to the Wall Street Journal, dentists estimate that between 10 to 20 percent of the population have damaged their teeth or gums as a result of overbrushing.

The people most at risk for tooth or gum damage from overbrushing are those who are particularly diligent about their oral care and those who use medium- or hard-bristled toothbrushes. Other factors, such as a genetic predisposition to receding gums, clenching or grinding your teeth or having had your teeth straightened with braces, can increase your risk for damage from overbrushing.

Brushing vigorously isn’t necessary to remove plaque. “Plaque is so soft that you could remove it with a rag if you could reach all the surfaces where it hides,” says Dr. Kevin Sheu, managing dental consultant for Delta Dental. “Thoroughness is what is required for plaque removal, not aggressive brushing. You’re not going to achieve any extra benefit by brushing hard.”

Changing brushing habits can usually stop the problem from getting worse. In cases of severe toothbrush abrasion, dentists can fill in the grooves with bonding material.

Proper brushing technique

What’s important when brushing your teeth is not how hard you scrub, but that you use the proper technique and that you do a thorough job. And that takes time. Dentists recommend that you brush your teeth for two to three minutes to get the most thorough cleaning. The following are some other tips for brushing your teeth correctly:

·        Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to prevent gum damage and wear on the soft tooth dentin (the less mineralized layer of tooth found just under the enamel) and in the root area. If you are accustomed to a hard-bristled toothbrush, even using a toothbrush that is softer than you are accustomed to will help.

·        Place the head of your toothbrush with the tips of the bristles at a 45-degree-angle to the gumline when brushing.

·        Move the toothbrush with short strokes and a scrubbing motion, several times in each spot – don’t saw back and forth across the teeth with your toothbrush.

·        Apply just enough pressure to feel the bristles against the gums. If you are squashing the bristles, you're brushing too hard.

 

Worn Brush Bristles

The smoothness of your toothbrush’s bristles (which are rounded in the factory when they are made) also gets worn away back to its original jaggedness via brushing, which is why you may have heard that dentists recommend you replace your toothbrush often. The key is to throw away your toothbrush before the bristles splay, because by that point, it’s too late. Splayed bristles mean you’ve been using a worn toothbrush that is too abrasive and has been wearing away your tooth structure. Replace your toothbrush every four weeks for people who brush twice a day

 

Sources: DeltaDental.com, AskTheDentist.com

 

12 Significant And Quirky Facts That Make Flossing Essential!

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How important is flossing in the health of your teeth? According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), flossing is the single most important weapon against plaque. In fact, it can be even more important than brushing (and takes less time!) when it comes to preventing tooth loss, cavities, and periodontal gum disease.

Floss removes plaque and debris that sticks to teeth and gums in between teeth, polishes tooth surfaces, and controls bad breath. By flossing your teeth daily, you increase the chance of keeping them for a lifetime and decrease the chance of getting gum disease.

Most people cite lack of time as a reason for not flossing. However, the AGD says flossing even two or three times a week has its benefits and is far better than not flossing at all.

So let’s get right down to it! Here are 12 significant facts that make flossing essential!

·        Flossing removes plaque between our teeth that our toothbrushes miss. This is something we all know, but did you know that when you don’t floss, food that sits between your teeth is actually rotting and can be a main cause for bad breath? Gross!

·        It has been thought that flossing before brushing can help the fluoride from our toothpaste better reach between our teeth.

·        In order to floss efficiently, you need to use a piece of floss that is 18 to 20 inches long.

·        Improper and irregular flossing leads to bleeding gums.

·        You should use a clean section of your floss to clean around each tooth. This will avoid transferring food and bacteria from one tooth to another.

·        There are two main types of floss: monofilament (plastic/rubber type) and multifilament (nylon/silk floss).

·        Both types of floss mentioned above come in flavors (and unflavored) such as mint, cinnamon, bubblegum and even bacon. Yes, I said bacon-flavored floss.…

·        Flossing saves you money. It plays an essential role in maintaining healthy teeth and gums. An unhealthy mouth can lead to a number of ailments and diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.

·        Seventy-three percent of Americans would rather go grocery shopping than floss!

·        Americans spend $2 billion a year on dental products—toothpaste, mouthwash, and dental floss.

·        Men floss less than women do.

·        Brushing your teeth without flossing is like only washing 70 percent of your body.

Teeth Are Always in Style!

Flossing takes up very little time in your day, but the impact of not flossing is greater to not only your teeth, but your overall health as well! Americans are living longer and keeping their own teeth, too. Yes, it is possible: with a good oral health routine and regular dental checkups, you can have your own teeth for as long as you live!

 

Sources: ModernDent.com, DeltaDentalIns.com

 

Fight Kid’s Cavity Fright This Halloween

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Tricky Treats to Avoid and Good Oral Health Habits to Prevent Plaque

As the Halloween candy is being devoured, sugar and dental plaque can linger in the crevices in and between your child's teeth and cause cavities. Monitoring your child's sugar intake and ensuring regular brushing habits to remove plaque will help prevent tooth decay this Halloween and make your child's next visit to the dentist cavity-free.

Sugar has long been identified by oral health experts as a major cause of tooth decay and cavities. If not removed by brushing or some other means, naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth form a colorless, sticky film called plaque. Cavity-causing microorganisms within plaque feed on sugar and turn it into acid. This acid attacks tooth enamel and causes tooth decay.

Guidelines for Your Trick or Treaters

Here are a few guidelines to safeguard your little pirate's teeth against decay this Halloween:

Don't buy Halloween candy too far in advance to avoid the temptation for children (and adults) to get a head start on the splurge.

When buying candy for Halloween, look for treats that can be eaten quickly, like miniature candy bars.

Try to ensure children eat a good, hearty meal prior to trick-or-treating, so there will be less temptation to gorge on candy.

Encourage your child to eat a small amount in one sitting followed by a glass of water and thorough tooth brushing. It is not a good idea to allow your child to graze on candy from after school until dinner time as this will increase the amount of time sugar comes in contact with teeth.

Promote good oral health care habits year-round to your children by encouraging twice daily brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, flossing and getting regular dental checkups.

Beware of Hard or Sticky Candy

One of the worst types of candy in terms of your child’s oral health is hard or sticky candies like sugared fruit snacks, caramels, popcorn balls or lollipops. They are particularly damaging because they spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth and are more difficult for teeth to break down. Plus, they can crack or chip a child’s tooth.

On the other hand, sweets like chocolate that quickly dissolve in the mouth and can be eaten easily lessen the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth

To help parents at Halloween, we offer a list of the most harmful to the safest treats your kids should be choosing from their trick-or-treat bag:

Sour Power – Sour candies are the absolute worst in that studies have revealed that the acids in sour candies are so destructive because they dissolve enamel on contact!

Hardly Harmless – Hard candy needs to be sucked on for an extended period of time and very chewy candies are harmful in that they get stuck between the teeth. Both hard and chewy candy allow bacteria to wreak havoc on your child’s teeth for a much longer period of time.

Resist Raisins – Don’t be fooled by their natural derivative. Raisins easily damage dental work because they are very sticky and do not mix well with fillings, braces or retainers.

Candy Bars Get Four Stars – While we can’t say candy bars are good for your oral health, they are less harmful because they are eaten quickly allowing less time for the sugar to damage with acid.

Dissolve Your Worry – Powder candy is fairly safe as the sugar dissolves quickly and makes little contact with the teeth.

Eat Two or Three if They’re Sugar Free – As obvious as it seems, sugar-free candy is the most highly recommended Halloween treat for your children’s teeth. You can even prevent cavities by chewing sugar free gum! Sugar free gum promotes increased saliva which neutralizes harmful bacteria.

 

Sources: DeltaDental.com

 

 

Vitamin Supplements – Can They Help or Hurt Your Teeth?

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Some Forms of Supplements Can Actually Harm Your Oral Health

Nutrition experts encourage daily supplementation of vitamin C for everyone. It protects against everything from sudden infant death syndrome (S.I.D.S) to scurvy, heart disease, and in some cases, cancer. Two-time Nobel Prize winner, Linus Pauling, recommended a whopping 3 grams of vitamin C every day for the average healthy male, and 6 grams for those at risk of heart disease. There are many methods of vitamin C supplementation, in the form of capsules, powders and syrups. For decades, parents have been providing their children with chewable vitamin C pills.

Chewable Pills and Citrus Toothpaste

Vitamin C is destructive to tooth enamel, so chewable pills may lead to increased cavities, particularly in those who are lacking minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin C should never be taken in a manner which leaves residues of it on the teeth for an extended time. Some well-intentioned toothpaste manufacturers have misguidedly added vitamin C or "citrus" to their formulas, without realizing the dental problems that this presents. Similarly, some alternative medicine sites on the Internet recommend cleaning the teeth with lemon-based solutions. Citrus acids have the tendency to make the teeth feel clean. This occurs partly because the acid strips the teeth of everything, including the minerals bonding with them. It can cause long-term enamel damage; especially when it is combined with abrasives or stiff bristle brushes.

Vitamin C when taken internally actually strengthens teeth, and the rest of the body. However, it should never be kept in direct contact with the teeth. It is strongly recommended for those who are brushing their teeth with citrus formulas to discontinue immediately. Toothpastes which contain calcium carbonate are ideal for long-term dental health and for tooth whiteness. Toothpastes containing phosphorus (phosphates) are even better.

Fizzy Vitamin Supplements

We know that sugar-filled juices and canned drinks such as cola and lemonade can cause tooth decay - yet few of us would think fizzy vitamin preparations can have similar effects. However, a study at the University of Helsinki on eight types of effervescent vitamins found they could all have corrosive effects on teeth. 

Leaching out the minerals contained in teeth, they left them weaker, more porous and prone to decay.

In the research, teeth were soaked in the vitamin drinks for 100 hours. All of them - including those drinks that contained calcium - caused demineralization. The effects were worst in the Vitamin C products, where teeth were corroded so severely that dentine, the sensitive layer beneath the enamel was exposed.

“When you drink fizzy vitamins, you wouldn't expose your teeth for anything near this length of time,” says Dr. Mervyn Druian, spokesperson for the British Dental Association. “However, if you drink one of these dissolved tablets each day, it is likely that they would weaken your teeth.”

Citric acid, the primary ingredient of many fizzy vitamin drinks, has been found by researchers at the University of Baltimore Dental School to cause dental erosion. While this erosion is less than in drinks that also contain sugar, it is still significant.

“Dental erosion is caused by acidic solutions which come into contact with the teeth,” says Dr. Adam Thorne, dental surgeon at the Harley Street Dental Studio. “Because the critical pH of dental enamel is 5.5, any solution with a lower pH value may cause erosion, particularly over a long period or if it is taken regularly.”

The danger of these soluble vitamins is that they are marketed for daily use and consumers tend to take them with breakfast and brush their teeth shortly after. “For an hour after you have an acidic drink such as a fizzy vitamin, cola or apple juice, your tooth enamel will remain softened,” says Dr. Thorne. “During this period, teeth become more vulnerable to corrosion, sensitivity and decay. Vitally, if you brush your teeth during this time, you are likely to brush away a layer of tooth enamel.”

How Can You Protect Your Teeth from the Effect of Chewable or Fizzy Supplements?

The strength of teeth changes continually over the course of a day, with minerals being taken out and replaced according to the foods you eat and drink. “Whenever we have an acidic drink, minerals are leached out of the teeth to help neutralize the acid. Saliva is slightly alkaline, so it also has a neutralizing effect,” says Dr. Druian.

“After a few hours, the neutralizing action of saliva takes over, and calcium and other minerals are gradually put back in the teeth.”

Dairy products such as cheese and milk have an alkaline pH that help neutralize acids. They also contain minerals. Eating these after an acid drink will help reduce acid levels and re-mineralize teeth at a faster rate. 

“Don't brush your teeth for at least an hour and don't swish the fizzy vitamin drink around your mouth,” states Dr. Durian. “You can also chew some sugar-free gum to increase the flow of saliva. Ultimately, if you are worried about the effects of these vitamins on your mouth, drink them through a straw or switch to a vitamin pill.”

Sources: KnowYourTeeth.com, HealthWyze.org, DailyMail.co.uk

 

 

 

Beating Bad Breath

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Are You Among the More Than 80 Million People Who Suffer?

Bad breath (also known as halitosis or malodor) can be embarrassing and tough on those around you. Some people don't realize their breath could peel paint because others are afraid to tell them. You don’t have to distance the people around you with smelly mouth odor.

Do You Have Bad Breath?

Bad breath is often caused by a buildup of bacteria in your mouth that causes inflammation and gives off noxious odors or gases that smell like sulfur -- or worse.

Everybody has nasty breath at some point, like when you get out of bed in the morning.

Not sure if your breath is bad? The best way to find out is to ask a trusted friend or your significant other, "'Does my breath smell?” Because it's really hard to tell on your own. There's also another way to know. It may seem a bit gross, but look at and smell your dental floss after you use it.

If your toothbrush or floss smells bad, then there are foul odors in your mouth.

What Causes Bad Breath?

Studies show that about 80% of bad breath comes from an oral source. For instance, cavities or gum disease can lead to bad breath, as can tonsils that have trapped food particles; cracked fillings, and less-than-clean dentures.

Several internal medical conditions also can cause your breath to go downhill fast. They include diabetes, liver disease, respiratory tract infections, and chronic bronchitis. You'll want to see your doctor to rule out things like acid reflux, postnasal drip, and other causes of chronic dry mouth (xerostomia).

If you’ve eliminated medical causes for your bad breath, hit the kitchen for some bad breath battlers.

 

Try these Bites for Better Breath

Chew a handful of cloves, fennel seeds, or aniseeds. Their antiseptic qualities help fight halitosis-causing bacteria.

Chew a piece of lemon or orange rind for a mouth- freshening burst of flavor. (Wash the rind thoroughly first.) The citric acid will stimulate the salivary glands—and fight bad breath.

Chew a fresh sprig of parsley, basil, mint, or cilantro. The chlorophyll in these green plants neutralizes odors.

Rinse with a 30-second mouthwash that is alcohol-free (unike many off-the-shelf products). Mix a cup of water with a teaspoon of baking soda (which changes the pH level and fights odor in the mouth) and a few drops of antimicrobial peppermint essential oil. Don’t swallow it! (Yields several rinses.)

Moisten your mouth. You can get tooth decay and bad breath if you don't make enough saliva. If your mouth is dry, drink plenty of water during the day.

 

Crunch Your Way to Better Breath

Try this recipe from The Remedy Chicks (Linda B. White MD, Barbara H. Seeber and Barbara Brownell-Grogan) from EveryDayHealth.com.

Raw crunchy foods clean the teeth. Apples contain pectin, which helps control food odors and promotes saliva production. Cinnamon is antimicrobial. Active cultures in yogurt help reduce odor-causing bacteria in the mouth.

1 cup apple chunks
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup diced celery
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup crushed walnuts
3 to 5 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt
Ground cinnamon

PREPARATION AND USE: Mix the apple, carrot, celery, cranberries, and walnuts together in a large bowl. Add yogurt by the tablespoon to moisten the mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon. (Serves two.)

 

Avoid Foods That Sour Your Breath.

Onions and garlic are big offenders. But brushing after you eat them doesn't help.

“The substances that cause their bad smells make their way into your bloodstream and travel to your lungs, where you breathe them out,” says Richard Price, DMD, a spokesman for the American Dental Association.

The best way to stop the problem? Don't eat them, or at least avoid them before you go to work or see friends.

 

Take Care of Your Mouth

Keep your teeth and gums healthy with regular oral care. Gum disease and tooth decay causes bad breath. Bacteria gather in pockets at the base of teeth, which creates an odor.

Brush your teeth twice a day.

Floss daily.

Brush or scrape your tongue.

Visit your dentist.

The best way to make sure that you are maintaining good oral hygiene is to visit your dentist regularly. If you have chronic bad breath, you should visit your dentist first, to rule out any dental problems. Or, if your dentist believes that the problem is caused from a systemic (internal) source such as an infection, he or she may refer you to your family physician or a specialist to help remedy the cause of the problem.

 

 

Sources: ADA, Web MD, Delta Dental, EveryDayHealth.com

 

 

7 Benefits of Smiling and Laughing that You Didn’t Know About

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Wonderful Ways Smiling Makes Life Better

Smiling and laughing can have a positive impact on your well-being, but as you make the transition from child to adult, you often tend to lose the habit of indulging in these behaviors. A good example of this is a children’s playground: You often see the kids running around, constantly laughing and smiling as they enjoy living in the moment, while the parents sit around the edge, full of the stresses that modern life can bring, with the occasional grin breaking their otherwise serious facial expressions. Adults can benefit from taking a lead from children and making more room in life for smiling and laughter.

In addition to improved health, these simple facial expressions and common human behaviors can have a distinctive positive impact on all areas of your life. When you smile and laugh, a number of physiological changes occur in your body, mostly without you being consciously aware of it happening.

1. Neurotransmitters called endorphins are released when you smile.

These are triggered by the movements of the muscles in your face, which is interpreted by your brain, which in turn releases these chemicals. Endorphins are responsible for making us feel happy, and they also help lower stress levels. Faking a smile or laugh works as well as the real thing—the brain doesn’t differentiate between real or fake as it interprets the positioning of the facial muscles in the same way. This is known as the facial feedback hypothesis. The more we stimulate our brain to release this chemical the more often we feel happier and relaxed.

2. Endorphins make us feel happier and less stressed.

They also act as the body’s natural pain killers. For sufferers of chronic pain, laughing and smiling can be very effective in pain management, as can laughing off the pain when you bump an elbow or fall over.

3. While the release of endorphins is increased, the stress hormone cortisol is reduced.

Cortisol is more active when we feel stressed or anxious and contributes to the unpleasant feelings we experience, and by lowering it we can reduce these negative feelings.

4. Laughing expands the lungs, stretches the muscles in the body and stimulates homeostasis.

This exercises the body, replenishing the cells from a lungful of oxygen and gaining all the benefits of exercising the body.

5. A good laugh can be an effective way to release emotions.

A good laugh can help you release emotions, especially those emotions that you might bottle up inside. Everything looks that little bit better after a good laugh and life can be seen from a more positive perspective. Smiling and laughing have positive social implications as well.

6. Smiling is an attractive expression, which is more likely to draw people to you rather than push them away.

Smiling makes you appear more approachable. Interaction with others is easier and more enjoyable when smiles and laughs are shared, and these behaviors are contagious, making others feel better too, and make you a more appealing and attractive person to be around. This in turn will have a positive effect on your well-being.

7. A happy, positive expression will serve you well in life.

This is particularly true for challenging situations such as job interviews: a smiling, relaxed persona indicates confidence and an ability to cope well in stressful situations. This will also be of benefit in your career, building healthy relationships with colleagues and being seen in a favorable light by your employers.

Source: LifeHack.org