Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Bad breath and what your tongue says about your health

Dr Harold Katz a US-based dentist and author of the Bad Breath Bible has revealed the top causes of bad breath. He also explained how to know you have bad breath by looking at your tongue in a mirror.

Dr Katz said, our mouths contain some living organisms - bacteria which live and thrive in its warm, dark environment.

Some of these bacteria are beneficial, helping our body to resist invaders and digest proteins. Other bacteria may be hostile, eventually resulting in things like sore throat or ear infection.

Regardless of their intent, bacteria live and multiply in our mouths, below the surface of our tongues, at the back of our throats and on our tonsils by the billions.

Billions of bacteria eating and then secreting waste can result in a lot of foul-smelling material.

He said, bad breath is caused by bacteria excreting sulphur compounds; high-protein diets; uneven tongues and certain toothpastes.

Also, certain types of sulphur-producing-bacteria emit noxious smelling waste composed of sulphur compounds.

These compounds include hydrogen sulphide (smells like rotten eggs), methyl mercaptan (smells like rotten cabbage), putrescine and cadaverine (both smell like decay) and several other unpleasant odours.

Some of these waste compounds are so potent they are also found in nature in the glands of skunks.

The pungent smells that come from the waste of this type of bacteria are what we typically refer to as bad breath.

How to tell you have bad breath by looking at your tongue

A healthy tongue is pink, glistening and smooth.
Rough tongue with yellow coating
A tongue that has a yellow coating that gets darker in the back shows an increase in the production of sulphur compounds.

Generally, the rougher one’s tongue, the more likely one is to have a bad breath problem. A yellow or white coating on your tongue is waste left by bad-breath-related bacteria.

This tongue has a deep fissure, where more bacteria could hide
A fissured tongue tends to lead to bad breath as fissures provide an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply.
Geographic tongue (has a topography like a map). Differences in this topography can influence the likelihood and degree of bad breath.
A geographic tongue is a condition characterized by large white patches on the tongue often encircled by red borders. It is called “geographic” because these patches tend to move locations over time. Geographic tongue can be triggered by a reaction to food, stress, illness, certain chemicals and hormonal surges.

A geographic tongue may also be a physical reaction to certain toothpaste and mouthwash ingredients (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, Alcohol, etc.)

Generally the condition is painless although some foods can irritate a geographic tongue and cause a stinging sensation - these include foods that are acidic, spicy, sour or sweet.

Black hairy tongue
A black hairy tongue occurs when papillae -finger-like projections on the surface of the tongue - fail to exfoliate normally. As papillae lengthen they collect debris and bacteria, producing the characteristic dark “furry” appearance. Although tongue scrapers are useful in eliminating mouth-odour causing bacteria, it is not advisable for use on furry tongues.

Causes of Mouth Odour

Anyone can develop mouth odour because it has less to do with oral hygiene and more to do with things like foods you eat, medications you take and personal habits you have that can provide an environment favourable to sulphur- producing, bad-breath-related bacteria. 

Some causes of mouth odour include:

Toothpaste: Some toothpastes contain sodium lauryl sulphate, a soapy detergent that creates foam but has no cleaning benefit. The additive has recently been linked to serious side effects including canker sores (mouth ulcers).

Read the label of your toothpaste and avoid sodium lauryl sulphate as an ingredient

Protein rich foods: As the proteins feed bacteria in the mouth, meaning they create more foul-smelling waste.

Coughing up phlegm: As mucus contains protein that feeds bacteria.

Sweets: Sugars (sucrose, glucose, fructose) are efficient fuel for all types of bacteria ranging from bad-breath-related bacteria to the germs that are responsible for plaque, gum disease and tooth staining.

Sugars also encourage tooth decay which feeds bacteria further and exacerbates bad breath problems

Tonsil stones: Tonsil stones are white or yellow lumps of gooey bacterial waste that can form at the back of your throat.

They are quite common for people who still have their tonsils. Tonsil stones give off a foul odour and lead to very bad breath.

Dry mouth: Because drying out the mouth helps bacteria thrive. You can prevent this by chewing sugar-free gum which stimulates saliva secretion.

Smoking and alcohol: As it causes dry mouth.

Sleep apnoea and mouth breathing: Breathing through the mouth causes it to become dry.

Juices: Bad breath related bacteria are able to produce waste faster in a highly acidic environment.

Gum disease: Diseased gum tissue feeds and harbours bacteria and provides opportunities for them to enter the bloodstream.

Medication that reduces immunity: It leaves the body less capable of limiting growth of bacteria.

Medication that causes dry mouth: Drying out the mouth helps bacteria thrive.

Lactose intolerance: This may cause a sour milk odour when eating dairy-based foods.

I think Dr. Katz just made understanding bad breath as simple as ABC.

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