Have You Considered Making Your Own Mouthwash?

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If you regularly use mouthwash that you’ve purchased at the store, then you know it isn’t cheap. But did you also know that store-bought mouthwash often includes alcohol and is loaded with a blend of chemicals whose names you can’t pronounce.

So why not make your own mouthwash at home? Here are five easy recipes that won’t break the bank and will provide you with lots of tasty mouthwashes that use “real” ingredients. 

Three-Ingredient Mouthwash

Ingredients:

1 cup of filtered water

1 teaspoon of baking soda

3 drops of peppermint essential oil (you can also use cinnamon, clove, wintergreen, peppermint, or tea tree essential oils)

Instructions:

Add all ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake very well. This can be kept in the bathroom and does not require refrigeration. Shake well before each use.

 

Grandma’s Disinfecting Mouthwash

Ingredients:

1 cup of filtered water

2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

Instructions:

Mix the ingredients together in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well before each use. This will keep forever right on your bathroom countertop.

 

Simple Hydrogen Peroxide Whitening Mouthwash

Ingredients:

1 part hydrogen peroxide

1 part filtered water

Instructions:

Don’t make a large batch of this solution. Try one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide and one tablespoon of water, for example. Mix in a ceramic or glass container (such as a glass or coffee cup) and use immediately. Swish in the mouth for 30 seconds and then spit it out. Do not swallow, and do not save any extra solution.

  

Super Citrus Oil Mouthwash

Ingredients:

2 cups of filtered water

2 teaspoons of calcium carbonate powder

1 teaspoon of xylitol crystals

10 drops of trace mineral liquid

10 drops of peppermint essential oil

5 drops of lemon essential oil

3 drops of wild orange essential oil

Instructions:

In a mason jar, or other similar container with a lid, stir together the xylitol crystals and the calcium powder. Add the essential oils and liquid minerals. Stir again to be sure everything is well combined. Add your water and stir. Close the lid and shake for 1 minute. That’s it! How easy was that?! You can find all these ingredients in your local natural or health food store or online. Store this in the refrigerator (it keeps for 2 to 3 weeks) and shake well before each use.

Xylitol is a natural sweetener proven to have a positive effect on tooth and gum health.  It is recommended by many dentists and is now a popular ingredient in natural toothpaste, gum and mouthwash.  It will also improve the taste and even the effectiveness of your mouthwash.

 

Cinnamon and Honey Mouthwash

Ingredients:

2 organic lemons, juiced

½ tablespoon of cinnamon powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda (not baking powder!)

5 teaspoons of raw, organic honey

1 cup of warm water

Instructions:

Using a mason jar or similar type of container with a tight-fitting lid, add all ingredients in the order given. Be sure the water is very warm as it needs to melt the honey. Close the lid and shake for one minute. Store in the refrigerator and use two tablespoons as a mouth rinse.

As with any mouthwash, be sure not to swallow during use. Happy gargling!

 

Sources: GreenMedInfo.com, DIYnatural.com, TheAlternativeDaily.com

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

 

 

Top Tips to Choosing the Best Toothbrush for Your Smile

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How do you decide what is the best toothbrush for your oral health needs? Do you go with a favorite color? Maybe the type of bristles – soft or hard? How the toothbrush feels in your hand when you are brushing?  Or the cost? All of those are important (even the color of your toothbrush) because you want to be sure that you are doing everything possible to encourage you to brush twice a day. Remember, if you are brushing twice a day for two minutes each time, you will end up spending about 1,000 hours during your lifetime brushing your teeth. You definitely want to give yourself every opportunity to make those hours as enjoyable as possible. 

Here are some simple tips to give you the best “toothbrush experience” possible:

When Should You Buy a New Toothbrush?

As soon as the bristles on your toothbrush begin to look worn or frayed, buy a new one. That usually happens every three months if you are brushing regularly. Remember, a worn-out toothbrush isn’t helping to keep your teeth clean. After an illness replace your toothbrush because germs can linger and make you sick again. Also, if you can’t remember the last time you changed your toothbrush, it’s probably time for a new one.

The Parts of a Toothbrush – Bristles, Head Shape and Handle

Bristles: Soft is Safe

Most dentists agree on using a toothbrush with soft bristles and to brush gently. You may think that scrubbing your teeth with a stiff-bristle toothbrush will improve your oral health, but you’re probably wrong. Instead, you’ll end up damaging your teeth and gums. How? The hard bristles will cause gum tissue to pull back from teeth, which can expose the tooth root and lead to increased sensitivity to heat, cold or certain foods and drinks. Plus the hard bristles will create damage to enamel on teeth, which can leave them exposed to cavity-causing plaque.

Head: Size Matters

Consider the toothbrush’s head shape when selecting your tool of choice. Some toothbrush shapes will suit some mouths better than others. Make sure the head allows your toothbrush bristles to comfortably reach your back molars, as some brush heads may be too large or wide. Brush in front of the mirror to make sure you cover every tooth. If it doesn’t, swap your toothbrush for one that does.

Handle: Get a Grip

The handle of the brush should be long enough to hold comfortably. It should neither be too thick nor too thin to hold. Some toothbrushes today have wide handles. This helps you control the toothbrush better. So, choose a toothbrush with a handle that is long enough and wide enough for you to use. 

Do You Go Cheap on What You Pay for Your Toothbrush?

Five no-name toothbrushes in a package may seem like a steal at a handful of pennies each, but consider the risks. Seeing as you put a toothbrush in your mouth two or more times per day, it’s worth going with a reputable manufacturer. If you buy a cheap toothbrush, you may be getting a product could be from a manufacturer who doesn't care about safety or efficacy. Plus, the toothbrushes could be made of inferior or unsafe materials. Bottom line, cheap toothbrushes are better suited for cleaning grout than oral hygiene. 

Why Is the ADA Way Important?

Buy toothbrushes that have the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. A company earns the ADA Seal for its product by producing scientific evidence that the product is safe and effective. The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs carefully evaluates the evidence according to objective guidelines for toothbrushes.

Does Color Matter?

Sure it does if color is important to you. Using an icky-colored toothbrush won’t motivate you to brush twice a day. Buy one that has a color attractive to you!

The Bottom Line on Selecting Your Toothbrush

At the end of the day, the best toothbrush is the one you’ll actually use. That means the toothbrush handle should fit comfortably in your hand and the toothbrush head should feel comfortable in your mouth and be able to reach every tooth surface. Look for the ADA Seal, your assurance that the product has been objectively evaluated for safety and effectiveness. 

Sources: The American Dental Association (ADA)

 

 

Seven Foods for a Happy Smile

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Can what you eat help your smile and overall oral health? The answer is a definite “yes”! We have seven foods in this week’s blog that will give your “pearly whites” a boost and help your gums and enamel stay happy and healthy.

Fruits and Vegies that Crunch

The high fiber in certain fruits and vegetables are like mini “scrubbers” in your mouth, replicating some of the work your toothbrush does by cleaning your teeth. Plus, they trigger saliva production in your mouth, which is a great way to wash away bacteria that have gathered on your teeth. In addition, any sugar in your mouth from other foods you’ve eaten will have a harder time sticking around, because the increased saliva will wash away that sugar. Raw celery, carrots, apples, broccoli, cauliflower and jicama are some of these oral health helpers.

Chocolate…Yes, Chocolate!

Believe it or not, dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao) can be good for your smile if you eat it in moderation. Research has shown that a compound in dark chocolate actually hardens tooth enamel and can help prevent cavities. One square a day is enough – and we’re talking dark chocolate, not milk chocolate!

Cheese Please

Cheese is high in protein and calcium and low in sugar – a good combination for oral health. It also has been shown to lower the acidity in your mouth – and the lower acidity level, the lower the chance of developing cavities. Another benefit is that cheese helps remineralize the teeth and minimize decay. Milk is also a good choice for oral health, since it contains protein and calcium and helps wash away sugar from other foods (that glass of milk with dessert is a good combination for oral health).

Be a Fan of Tea

Both black and green teas are high in polyphenols, which kill or suppress bacteria in your mouth. Remember, bacteria produce acids which destroy your tooth enamel. They feed on sugar in your mouth, so having tea during or after your meal will fight the bacteria, wash away sugar, and replenish your saliva. That’s a trio of good benefits from tea.

Foods from the Sea

What do sea foods have in common? They are lean in protein and they contain natural fluoride. The combination strengthens your teeth and helps prevent cavities. A bonus is that they are a great source of Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium in your diet. Calcium helps your teeth and gums fight disease which can lead to oral health problems.

All Kinds of Nuts

Nuts provide a healthy dose of protein, which your teeth and gums benefit from. They also are loaded with calcium and phosphorus – both good for tooth enamel. And the “crunch” of nuts produces saliva in your mouth, which washes away bad stuff in your mouth.

The Wonders of Water

We’ve mentioned multiple times in our blog how important the production of saliva is for your oral health. Water is just as good for a variety of reasons. First, it replenishes your saliva (which is nearly 100% water) and hydrates your mouth. Second, the right amount of saliva in your mouth helps break down food you eat, reduces acid produced by bacteria, and slows down tooth decay. All of those are good for your smile.

 

SOURCES: Colgate.com

 

 

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

 

 

 

Homemade Mouthwash Alternatives

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9 Natural Mouthwashes You’ll Feel Good About Using While Saving Some Bucks

Believe it or not, mouthwashes have been around for a long, long time. In fact, the very first references that we have are from books in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine that list ingredients for a mouth rinse for the treatment of gingivitis from about 2700 B.C.!

There are other examples as well. Hippocrates recommended making a combination of vinegar, alum, and salt to stop bad breath. Native Americans often used plants, such as three leaf golden thread, soaked in water as a mouth rinse to stop infections. The Romans, and Greek upper class people, typically used a mouth rinse after “brushing” their teeth with sticks or reeds.

In 1970, there were only about 15 brands and types of mouthwash in the United States. Today, there are more than 112! Rinsing out the mouth with a mouthwash is considered to be important for good oral hygiene, but store-bought chemical mouthwash is filled with potentially harmful ingredients like thymol, which is known to be dangerous to the environment as well as to aquatic organisms, and hexetidine, considered to be carcinogenic.

In addition to avoiding possible toxins, you might also save some of your hard-earned cash and even see better results by making your own mouthwash. Here are some great home recipes for mouthwash.

 

1. Super Citrus Oil Mouthwash

Ingredients:

·       2 cups of filtered water

·       2 teaspoons of calcium carbonate powder

·       1 teaspoon of xylitol crystals

·       10 drops of trace mineral liquid

·       10 drops of peppermint essential oil

·       5 drops of lemon essential oil

·       3 drops of wild orange essential oil

Instructions:

In a mason jar, or other similar container with a lid, stir together the xylitol crystals and the calcium powder. Add the essential oils and liquid minerals. Stir again to be sure everything is well combined. Add your water and stir. Close the lid and shake for 1 minute. That’s it! How easy was that?! You can find all these ingredients in your local natural or health food store or online. Store this in the refrigerator (it keeps for 2 to 3 weeks) and shake well before each use.

Xylitol is a natural sweetener proven to have a positive effect on tooth and gum health.  It is recommended by many dentists and is now a popular ingredient in natural toothpaste, gum and mouthwash.  It will also improve the taste and even the effectiveness of your mouthwash.

 


2. Super Simple Mouthwash

Ingredients:

·       1 cup of filtered water

·       4 teaspoons of baking soda

·       4 drops of tea tree essential oil

·       4 drops of peppermint essential oil

Instructions:

Add all ingredients to a mason jar or similar container with a lid. Shake very well. Use about 2 tablespoons of this mixture each day, the same way you would use mouthwash for super white teeth and fresh breath. The baking soda will usually settle to the bottom of the container after a few hours, but don’t worry, this is normal. Simply shake well before each use.

 

3. Cinnamon and Honey Mouthwash

Ingredients:

·       2 organic lemons, juiced

·       ½ tablespoon of cinnamon powder

·       1 teaspoon of baking soda (not baking powder!)

·       1.5 teaspoons of raw, organic honey

·       1 cup of warm water

Instructions:

Using a mason jar or similar type of container with a tight fitting lid, add all ingredients in the order given. Be sure the water is very warm as it needs to melt the honey. Close the lid and shake for one minute. Store in the fridge and use two tablespoons as a mouth rinse.

 


4. Three-Ingredient Mouthwash

Ingredients:

·       1 cup of filtered water

·       1 teaspoon of baking soda

·       3 drops of peppermint essential oil

Instructions:

Add all ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake very well. This can be kept in the bathroom and does not require refrigeration. Shake well before each use.

 

5. Grandma’s Disinfecting Mouthwash

Ingredients:

·       1 cup of filtered water

·       2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

Instructions:

Mix the ingredients together in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well before each use. This will keep forever right on your bathroom countertop.

 


6. Herb-Infused Mouthwash

Ingredients:

·       2 cups of filtered water

·       ½ ounce of whole cloves

·       1 ounce of Oregon grape root

·       1 ounce of rosemary sprigs

Instructions:

Boil the water and then add all remaining ingredients to the water. Boil for one minute, then turn off the fire and cover the pot. Allow herbs to steep in the water overnight. Strain out the herbs with a piece of cheesecloth in the morning and store in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well before each use and store in the refrigerator. This will keep 7 to 14 days in the fridge.

 

7. Simple Hydrogen Peroxide Whitening Mouthwash

Ingredients:

·       1-part hydrogen peroxide

·       1-part filtered water

Instructions:

Don’t make a large batch of this solution. Try one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide and one tablespoon of water, for example. Mix in a ceramic or glass container (such as a glass or coffee cup) and use immediately. Swish in the mouth for 30 seconds and then spit it out. Do not swallow, and do not save any extra solution.

 

8. Sweet-Smelling Essential Oil Mouthwash

Ingredients:

·       1 cup of filtered water

·       20 drops of the essential oil of your choice. Best choices are cinnamon, clove, wintergreen, peppermint, or tea tree oil

Instructions:

In a glass container with a tight fitting lid, combine all ingredients and shake well. Always shake well before each use. This mixture will keep on the kitchen counter or bathroom counter forever.

 

9. Oral Cancer Fighting Turmeric Solution

Ingredients:

·       10 mg of turmeric extract

·       ½ cup of water

Instructions:

Use 10 mg of turmeric extract dissolved in a little less than a ½ cup of water. A drop or two of peppermint oil can be added for flavoring; alternatively, you can just stir a little turmeric powder into warm water. Either will result in an outstanding mouthwash for treating inflamed gums and even relieving a toothache.

Since ancient times, turmeric has been used for remedying oral ailments, among other therapeutic applications too numerous to count. Studies have shown that using turmeric as part of a mouth cleansing solution can be more effective than a chemical mouthwash. The curcumin in turmeric acts to disrupt the cycle of dental plaque formation. Research has found that turmeric extract and turmeric oil may reverse precancerous changes in oral submucous fibrosis in humans and even kill oral cancer cells.

As with any mouthwash, be sure not to swallow during use. Happy gargling! 

 

Sources: TheAlternativeDaily.com, DIYnatural.com, GreenMedInfo.com

 

 

6 Ways to Fresher Breath in the Morning

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Love waking up to the smell of coffee? Think twice before you reach for a cup! Your daily dose of Joe — and other habits that can easily escape your notice — could be giving you a bad case of morning breath. But fear not! Bad breath, or "halitosis", doesn't have to ruin your day. Nip the problem in the (taste)buds by giving these simple tips a try:

 

1. Cut the caffeine.

Coffee isn't the only beverage in town that can leave your breath less than fresh. Gulping down certain teas and energy drinks for a morning buzz may result in bad breath if they contain caffeine, which can inhibit the production of saliva. When the mouth is too dry, it allows oral bacteria, the main purveyor of halitosis, to flourish. To jumpstart the mind and body without this unpleasant side effect, turn to morning stretches and a refreshing smoothie or citrus-infused water instead. If you have to consume caffeinated beverages, be sure to hydrate with multiple glasses of water.

 

2. Stop smoking.

Besides putting you at risk for lung cancer, smoking cigarettes can stain your teeth and cause your breath to smell bad, dealing your oral health a double whammy. From the combustion of chemical additives to the tiny smoke particles left in your throat and lungs, it's almost inevitable that your breath ends up tasting and smelling stale. If you feel the urge to take a puff in the morning, distract yourself by doing light chores, or going for a quick walk. Obviously, a smoking habit may cause a more chronic breath problem, so quitting cigarettes and other forms of tobacco is your best bet for a more permanent solution.

 

3. Don't skip breakfast.

Pass on the coffee and cigarettes, but eat breakfast — and a nutritious one at that! After a long night's sleep, your mouth could benefit from a boost in saliva production, and a good meal is the perfect way to do it. Grab an apple for its high water content and crunchiness, both of which can help cut down on odor-causing bacteria. Yogurt and eggs can also promote saliva production while giving you a healthy serving of calcium and vitamin D. Get creative, but be selective, as some of your favorite breakfast foods may include not-so-breath-friendly ingredients such as garlic or onions.

 

4. Do a better job of brushing and flossing.

You're running late, but if there's one thing you shouldn't rush, it's your morning dental routine. From stuck food particles to gingivitis and even nasty tonsil stones, it all adds up to one major case of halitosis if left unchecked. For mornings where standard brushing and flossing doesn't seem to do the trick, get a deeper clean by scraping the gunk off your tongue and gargling with mouthwash. If you find yourself flying out the door and forgetting about your oral hygiene frequently, keep a travel-sized dental kit in your bag or at the office for convenience.

 

5. Check (and change) your sleeping habits.

More often than not, bad breath is noticeable the moment you wake up. The problem may not be what you eat or drink, or even how your brush and floss. Instead, it could be how you breathe during your sleep. Breathing orally throughout the night can quickly turn your mouth into a haven for oral bacteria, resulting in a parched sensation and an unpleasant odor. Depending on the severity of the situation, your dentist may recommend surgery, but something as simple as having a glass of water, sugar-free lozenge, or a humidifier on hand at night can help keep your mouth moist.

 

6. Let your dentist have a look.

In some cases, morning breath that persists despite your efforts to remedy it may signal something more serious, from cavities and tooth infections, to diabetes and liver and kidney problems. Play it safe by seeing your dentist. He or she can help you determine and treat the root cause more efficiently, and provide you with a personalized treatment plan to rid yourself of the problem for good.

 

 

SOURCES: American Dental Association, WebMD, Mayo Clinic

 

 

Demystifying Mouthwash: Good for Oral Health or Harmful?

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Four Proven Benefits and Five Myths of Oral Rinse

Who doesn’t love that minty kick that comes from a swig of mouthwash? Your oral rinse could be doing more than just giving your breath a makeover, according to many mouthwash makers — it could be chockfull of health benefits, too. Just check out the label on your mouthwash container, and you may find that it’s a plaque zapper, a teeth whitener, perhaps even a gum-disease fighter.

But are the claims true? Is mouthwash really good for your mouth? Turns out, the answer is yes and no.

Four True Mouthwash Benefits

Mouthwash may:

Cut Down On Cavities. Rinsing with a fluoride rinse can help reduce cavities and studies have shown the benefits of fluoride in reducing demineralization of the teeth.

Fight Gum Disease. With periodontal disease (such as gingivitis), gums and tooth sockets can get inflamed or infected because of plaque from bacteria and food that lingers on teeth. An antibacterial mouthwash, like one with alcohol or chlorhexidine, may help prevent periodontal disease.

Soothe Canker Sores. Mouthwash can ease a canker sore by detoxing the area and reducing the amount of bacteria that can irritate the site.

Safeguard Your Pregnancy. Periodontal disease is actually a risk factor for giving birth to preterm, low-weight babies. The bacteria from a gum infection can get into a pregnant woman’s bloodstream and increase inflammatory markers, which in turn can stimulate contractions. And a recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that moms-to-be who used mouthwash throughout their pregnancy were less likely to go into early labor.

 

Five Mouthwash Myths

Mouthwash can help keep your gums and teeth healthy—but only if you use them properly. We’ve got expert tips on boosting the benefits of mouth rinses.

All Mouthwashes Are Made Equal

Rinsing with a cosmetic mouthwash will loosen bits of food from your teeth, lessen bacteria in your mouth, temporarily reduce bad breath and leave a refreshing taste in your mouth. But these products can’t make any greater claim than that. 

Therapeutic rinses contain additional active ingredients such as essential oils, chlorhexidine, cetylpyridinium chloride and fluoride, which have been proven to reduce plaque or fight cavities.


Mouthwash is Harmless

Many mouthwashes contain a high amount of alcohol. This can cause a dry mouth, which ironically is a cause of bad breath, and irritate oral tissues. In some people, the alcohol can cause sensitivity to the root surfaces of the teeth. There have also been studies suggesting a link between alcohol-containing mouthwash and oral cancer, but the research is limited and many experts says there’s not enough evidence to draw this conclusion. It’s an issue that has been discussed since the 1970s with no definitive answers. One stumbling block has been the way the studies have been designed, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). As of now, the ADA has put its Seal of Acceptance on some mouth rinses containing alcohol after it extensively reviewed their effectiveness and safety.

Alcohol-free mouthwashes are available. But other ingredients can cause side effects, too. Many can stain your teeth or cause a burning sensation. Essential oils may have an uncomfortably sharp taste. Chlorhexidine can temporarily alter your sense of taste, and isn’t recommended for long-term use. Mouthwash is not meant to be ingested, so it may cause problems if accidentally swallowed. It’s not usually recommended for young children.


Mouthwash Cures Bad Breath

Mouthwash may temporarily curtail bad breath, but it’s not a permanent fix. Some people may be masking the symptoms of an oral health disease or condition. With some conditions such as periodontal (gum) disease, bad breath, and an unpleasant taste in your mouth are indicators that something is wrong. There is no amount of mouthwash that can mask the effects of poor health.

Also, smelly compounds from your garlicky lunch, for example, are actually coming from your lungs as you exhale, so freshening your mouth won’t help for long. Your saliva can work against you too. Saliva dilutes mouthwash. In some cases, the proteins in saliva can reduce the effectiveness of mouthwash ingredients.


Mouthwash Can Replace Brushing

Mouthwash can cut back the level of bacteria in your mouth. Regular brushing and flossing will do a much more effective job of removing plaque and debris than mouthwash alone. Research shows that adding a rinse with mouthwash to your oral care routine can in fact improve the overall cleanliness of your mouth and help keep gum inflammation at bay. But mouthwash is usually considered an add-on, not a replacement for brushing and flossing. In special situations, like after oral surgery, your healthcare provider might direct you to use a mouth rinse instead of brushing. This will be temporary, and soon you’ll be back to your usual mouth care.

 

A little Swish Is All You Need

Do you gargle or rinse for a few quick seconds, then spit? Most mouthwashes are at their most effective when in contact with your mouth tissues for 30 seconds per use. But despite best intentions, some people say mouthwash is so strong or stings so much that it’s difficult to use for that long. Still, it’s worth sticking it out if you want the best results. Mouthwash should be used as directed by the manufacturer.

 

The Bottom Line On Your Oral Rinse

Ultimately, what is right for your best friend may not be the best choice for you, so consider your personal situation. Talk to your dentist on the effects of mouthwash and which one may be best for your mouth.

 

Sources: EverydayHealth.com, KnowYourTeeth.com, Best Health Magazine

 

 

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