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Recent research has begun to mount linking the oral health to the rest of the body. Did you know that more than 90% of all systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms?  Oral health means more than just an attractive smile. Poor oral health and untreated oral diseases and conditions can have a significant impact on quality of life. In many cases, the condition of the mouth is a direct sign of the condition of the body as a whole. This means that it is even more important to seek regular dental care as your dentist might the one to notice oral signs of systemic disease developing.

Systemic Disease With Associated Oral Symptoms

-Heart Disease/Stroke – Recent research has proven a link between periodontal disease and heart disease. The research results find that the bacteria present in periodontal disease does not just stay in the mouth but can move and travel throughout the body. It is believed that the bacteria moves from brushing, flossing, or eating and causes inflammation. The process of inflammation that affects the tissues in the mouth are what causes the heart disease issues. In periodontal disease, the body goes into an inflammatory state to rid the offending bacteria but in the process they are destroying good tissues and bone. When bacteria goes mobile and travels throughout the body, this bacteria can irritate the arteries which in turn will respond by creating arterial plaques. These plaques lead to decreased or blocked blood flow which in turn can cause a heart attack.

-Diabetes – Diabetic patients are unique in that their disease reduces the body’s ability to fight infection. This reduced ability can lead to an increased occurence of periodontal disease. Diabetic patients need to increase their at home dental hygiene as well as see their dentist more often to ensure they do not succumb to their disease. Diabetics may experience burning mouth syndrome and fungal infections, such as thrush and oral candidiasis. Dry mouth may also develop, causing an increased incidence of tooth decay. To prevent problems with bacterial infections in the mouth, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics, prescription mouth rinses, and more frequent dental cleanings.

-Gastrointestinal Diseases – These diseases include Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and Gastroesophageal Reflux (GERD). The oral cavity is the portal of entry to the GI tract. In the case of GERD it is not uncommon to see tooth enamel erosion from the acids in the stomach entering the mouth and for the other diseases, the presence of regular ulcers can be a sign of colitis or Crohn’s disease. Obviously these ulcers alone would not be a diagnosis for them in absence of other symptoms.

-Hematologic (Blood) Disorders - Mucosal conditions, such as glossitis, recurrent aphthae, candidal infections, and angular stomatitis may be more common in patients with anemia. Glossitis can be the first sign of a folate or vitamin B-12 deficiency. The tongue appears red, and the papillae produce a smooth appearance. Angular stomatitis is commonly caused by a candidal infection, and it has been linked to a deficiency in iron. If the anemia persists, a person may have decreased resistance to infection.

-Sjogren Syndrome – This disease predominantly affects women (9 women to 1 man) and primarily affects those over age 50. Oral changes can include difficulty in swallowing and eating, changes in taste and speech, increased tooth decay, and an increased chance of infection, all due to a decrease in saliva.

-HIV/AIDS – The oral symptoms include candidiasis (oral infection), Karposi’s sarcoma, increased herpes outbreaks, as well as human papilloma virus (HPV) infections.

Conclusion

The above list is by no means comprehensive, but it goes to show you how various diseases affecting different parts of the body can appear and affect the mouth. Scientific research continually furthers the evidence that the mouth is a window to your health. While your dentist may not be able to definitively diagnose any of the above diseases they can be an early communicator of the symptoms developing to give you a better chance of recovering from the effects of these diseases. Some believe that increased dental health and oral hygiene have led to an increased chance of autoimmunity to certain diseases and conditions.

Bad breath can be quite embarassing and create all sorts of social anxiety. Bad breath can be controlled, but first you need to be aware of what may be causing it.

What Are The Top Causes Of Bad Breath?

-Poor Dental Hygiene. Oral bacteria is probably the most common cause of bad breath.  It has the ability to hide in places that you may not reach with just a toothbrush. This includes below the gum line, between your teeth, in the very back of your mouth, and on the tongue. Poor dental hygiene can lead to development of periodontal disease which will exacerbate the bad breath issue. Even if you brush your teeth a couple of times each day and floss, you can never completely remove all of the bacteria from your mouth.  As you eat food, the bacteria break it down into waste products.  These waste products tend to pool at the back of the tongue and release volatile sulfur compounds. These create malodor.   These compounds are called volatile because they evaporate quickly and  create a “rotten egg” smell. Compound this with periodontal disease and the malodor intensifies.

-Diet. This can include foods like curry, onions, and garlic. Ingesting such foods do not only create mouth odor, but can permeate through the pores of the skin . Plant oils are absorbed and the byproducts enter your bloodstream so you are actually breathing the odors out via your lungs three to four hours after eating. Foods that are high in protein such as eggs, milk, and cheese have been linked to bad breath as well.

-Stomach Issues. Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori) is the name for the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers and has been shown to cause bad breath. Sometimes GI problems such as GERD or an ulcer can cause bad breath when you burp and gas is released, or cause higher volatile sulfur compounds to remain at the back of your throat.

-Menstruation. This is quite a common experience for many women. During menstruation, hormones alter the gums and other tissues in the mouth making it easier for bad breath causing bacteria.  Pregnant women may also experience bad breath due to these hormonal changes.

-Medications/Habits. This includes smoking tobacco products and drinking alcohol as well as some prescription drugs.

-Dry Mouth. This appears to cause bad breath by allowing certain bacteria  to overgrow  in your mouth.  This is a major factor in morning breath.  If you are unable to breathe through your nose at night due to a stuffy nose, your mouth can quickly dry out and becoming a breeding ground for those bad breath-causing bacteria.

-Tonsils. It is rare but tonsils can develop what is called a tonsillolith. This is a calcified substance that is caught in the large craters of your tonsils. This can create very bad breath when present.

-Infection and Illness. If you have ever had a mouth or sinus infection, you know how bad either can taste or smell. Infections in the body can also cause oral malodor.

Tips To Freshen Breath

-Maintain Good Dental Hygiene. This includes both at home and in office dental care.

-Reduce Dry Mouth. Stay hydrated. Try oil pulling therapy.

-Take care of medical issues. Treat Infections of the body. See a doctor to evaluate ulcers or gastritis. Improve your health and you will see an immediate decrease in bad breath.

-Chew gum with xylitol. Suck on sugar free candy

-Eat yogurt for sweeter breath.

-Try a neutralizing product. Closys is a spray applied to the back of the tongue to neutralize volatile sulfur compounds. Neutralizers don’t mask with mint flavors, they actually remove the problem.

Bad Breath Conclusion

Bad breath is not something anyone should have to live with. For most of us it can be brought under control with a few simple methods. If your bad breath continues even with improved oral hygiene there might be a bigger underlying cause that should be checked by your dentist and physician.