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Tooth decay, for many, can be a constant battle. There are many reasons why some people are more prone to developing tooth decay. These include poor oral hygiene, neglect, disease, inherited cavity promoting bacteria, weak enamel formation, medications, and poor dietary habits. The oral environment is  continually changing and therefore must be continually aided to fight decay.

Do Teeth Repair Themselves?

Our teeth are in a constant state of unbalance, demineralizing (breaking down) and remineralizing (building back up). With many food and drink items we ingest, the oral cavity changes from a neutral to acidic environment. The savior for us is the special properties of our saliva. Our saliva has the ability to coat the teeth with a slick film containing calcium that makes it hard for bacteria to stick and helps repair damaged enamel. Saliva also protects our teeth by neutralizing acids, and washes away the food particles  that feed the bacteria which constantly attack our teeth.

Factors Of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is the direct result of demineralization by the oral bacteria, mutans streptococci and Lactobacillus. These bacteria are the principal reasons for the breakdown of our teeth. Another little known fact is that tooth decay is considered infectious and transmissable. This generally only affects those with low or compromised immune systems. The classic case is the passing of oral bacteria from mother to child.

The factors of tooth decay include:

-Poor Oral Hygiene.

-Disease. This can include cancer, xerostomia (dry mouth), and diabetes.

-Medications. Medications can cause issues with weakened tooth formation when taken as a child and may cause an acidic, dry, or irritated oral environment in an adult.

-Poor Dietary Habits. This includes frequent snacking. High acid beverages, high carb/sugary foods.

-Anatomy and Genetics.  The way teeth form has a direct effect on how and where plaque will stick. The presence of deep pits and fissures in your teeth cannot be easily cleaned with a toothbrush and so, become the ideal place for plaque bacteria to invade. There are certain genetic codes that allow for missing teeth, malformed teeth, highly irregular enamel or dentin. These teeth are generally more prone to decay.

-Dental Appliances. This includes wearing of partial dentures, braces, space maintainers, or other orthodontic appliances.

Options For Preventive Care

Instead of waiting for a problem to occur which will require repair with dental restorations, (fillings) try to prevent it instead. If  tooth decay has taken hold , know that there are a few tricks in the arsenal to combat future decay. Preventive solutions include:

-Nutritional Counseling. After creating a log of your dietary intake for 1-2 weeks, your dentist may be able to help you find the food items that are putting you at greater risk for tooth decay.

-Fluoride Treatments. Fluoride rinses, toothpastes, gels worn in custom trays, and varnishes placed by your dentist allow the enamel surface to harden and protect itself against bacterial invasion.

-Chlorhexidine Gluconate. This oral rinse has the ability to disrupt bacterial metabolism. The downside is chlorhexidine cannot be combined with fluoride, it tends to cause staining, and it does not do well vs Lactobacillus.

-Nutraceutical Phenols. These include herbal lollipops which contain a specific herbal formula extracted from licorice root. This has been shown to selectively kill gram-positive bacteria as well as all oral yeasts.

-Xylitol. This cannot be metabolized into acid by bacteria. Because it cannot be metabolized it helps reduce the population of tooth decay causing bacteria. It can also increase saliva formation which in turn can help by building our teeth back up (remineralization).

-Probiotic Therapy. This involves replenishing the good bacteria in the mouth to crowd out the tooth decay causing bacteria.

-Oil pulling. Rinsing with oil helps reduce toxins, bacterial count, and coat the teeth making them too slick for bacteria to stick.

Tooth Decay Conclusion

Tooth decay can be controlled with proper habits and being aware of your limitations. Once you have a good understanding of what issues are promoting your tooth decay, you can begin to battle it more effectively. There are many options for prevention. Discuss possible treatments with your dentist and begin your new journey towards a cavity free oral environment.

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.