Do you have bad breath? The problem with bad breath, is that sometimes you have no idea it is your problem, until someone tells you. It is an embarrassing thing to have to go through, but it is something that many people deal with. Bad breath is offensive and it disgusts people. When food is the cause of the bad breath, one merely has to brush or gargle, to rid the mouth of food debris that smells. When the problem is deeply rooted, however, it is a different story altogether.
So maybe you were told you have foul breath or maybe you smelt it for yourself and want to deal with it once and for all. Whatever your motivation, the first thing you need to do is to visit your dentist.
Reasons for Bad Breath
If you are troubled with bad breath, you could be dealing with the following oral problems:
- Plaque build-up. Plaque is formed when food, saliva and bacteria is allowed to come together and calcify. It accumulates in the mouth and its very makeup causes bad breath. If this is the problem, a teeth cleaning is needed, and a reminder to observe good oral hygiene is necessary. This includes stressing the need to see the dentist for regular cleaning, every six months.
- Tooth decay. If a tooth is decayed and rotten, it will give off a bad smell, and give you bad breath. Tooth decay is resolved with a tooth filling. The tooth is cleaned and the decayed tissues are removed, so that it may be restored back to health.
- Gum disease. When plaque is left to accumulate, this progresses to gum disease, which involves swelling, redness, tenderness, pus formation and bleeding. Pus formation and bleeding will surely give you a bad breath. If this is found to be the cause of your problem, you may need to undergo periodontal rehabilitation, that may or may not involve surgery.
- Infection. If a rotten tooth is left to decay, the problem becomes worse, and an infection may start. You may begin to find a boil/swelling on the area of the decayed tooth and it will be filled with pus. This pus formation is going to cause bad breath, and until this tooth is removed or the infection is resolved with a root canal treatment, the foul odor will not go away.
- Acid reflux. If you have the tendency to regurgitate contents of your stomach, the constant reflux will give you bad breath. A dentist who uncovers this will refer you to a physician for further testing.
- Dry mouth. First of all, why do you have dry mouth syndrome? Whether it is due to medication that you are taking or a symptom of another disease, it needs to be resolved. A dentist, who discovers this, will refer you to a physician for further testing.
- Tonsil stones. Sometimes the folds of the tonsils are highly pronounced so that plaque accumulates at the back of the mouth. Tonsil stones should be removed, just like normal plaque.
Dealing with Bad Breath
If you are a patient with bad breath, the dentist will try to find the reason for this. Depending on the evidence gathered, a corresponding treatment process will be performed to resolve your problem.
Smoking is a bad habit, but what is true is that it is a problem that has remained to threaten lives of many people. It starts with a puff. Usually, a person tries it, and he could like it right away or cough out frustration. And then he tries it again, and again…and the rest is history. Eventually, the person is hooked and those who become a victim of cigarette addiction, serves a lifelong sentence.
Some people smoke because it soothes them. Some people smoke because it’s an activity they very much enjoy. Regardless of the reason, one thing is true, smoking is bad for people and dentists share the burden, not only of educating the smoker of its ill-effects, but in convincing him to quit altogether—to abandon the habit.
Smoking: Stains and Bad Breath
In the dentist’s office smoking is detected through the heavy stench emanating from a smoker’s mouth. If this has been properly masked by candy, mouthwash or toothpaste, the habit is presented through dark gums, discolored teeth and heavy stains. Nicotine stains can cover pearly whites and give the teeth a brown, menacing color. They are extrinsic stains and are painstakingly scaled away from the teeth surface by sharp tools.
While the dentist is scarping through the stains, he can educate the patient about flushing with water after enjoying a smoke or if he is bold enough, he point out the ugliness of stains and tell him he is definitely better off without it,
Smoking and Post-Surgery
In a more serious setting, a dentist will come face-to-face with a serial smoker and he will have to declare a no smoking rule following a surgical procedure. Unlike the presence of stains during a routine oral prophylaxis, this order to stop smoking is no longer a suggestion, it is a post-operative instruction to stay away.
Smoking retards wound healing and after surgery, patients are given the instructions to stop smoking, for at least a week, to allow the tissues to heal in its proper course. A patient will follow, for fear of infection and unnecessary complication.
Smoking and Dental Implants
In an even more serious setting, a dentist may be forced to tackle smoking as it is a straight contraindication for dental implant placement. A smart dentist will be honest to tell a smoker that unless he stops, he may never be a candidate for implants. Dental implants fail due to the harmful chemicals of cigarettes. First and foremost, it retards the healing of tissues and bones, which basically determines the success of implant placement—and much further into the lifespan of implants, smoking can definitely cut it short.
Smoking is bad for your health—it says right there on the package. In the dental setting, smoking poses as a significant culprit but one needs to realize is that the danger begins from the very first puff.
A lot of patients come into the dentist with this concern, “Why are my gums bleeding”. They didn’t just have a tooth extraction or surgery, so there is no wound to be the definite source of the bleed, so they are wondering where all the blood is coming from. When asked further, they will reveal that sometimes the bleeding is spontaneous; but always it is an automatic feature when they brush their teeth. They spit and their saliva is bloody—concerning them, for sure.
Blood easily concerns patients especially if they do not know where it is coming from. When a patient comes in with this concern, an immediate investigation is carried out to find out the cause, but almost always this is related to gum disease
Gums and Bleeding
The periodontium is the collective term for the oral structures concerned with gum health. This includes the cementum layer of the teeth (the outer layer of the roots), the alveolar bone (jaw), the gingiva (gums) and the periodontal ligaments (fibers). They all assume a perfect role that corresponds to optimal oral health, but basically what you have to understand is that the teeth’s roots are fitted into the sockets within the jaw bone and they are kept in place by the fibers that are attached from the bone to the cementum. This is the arrangement that you do not see underneath the gingiva, which is the pink, soft tissue structure that we all fondly call the gums.
At health, the periodontium will sufficiently hold the teeth in place and it is quite a strong hold. When the mouth is dirty and ridden with plaque, it will accumulate on the teeth and can pack into he sulcus, between the teeth and gums. The accumulation of plaque compromise the health of the periodontium. The initial reversible signs of gum disease include swelling, redness, tenderness, pus formation and bleeding. The gums bleed due to suffocation from the plaque build-up. To get rid of these reversible signs and symptoms, a patient needs to get an oral prophylaxis, so that the teeth may be scaled and planed to remove adherent plaque.
If done well, the periodontium will revert to its healthy status and the attachments will be re-established. However, if this problem is allowed to progress, a patient will have to deal with more than just blood in their mouth.
The Irreversible Problem
When the infection is allowed to set in, the bacteria eats the bone away and so the teeth lose solid support. When this happens, there is irreversible loss of jaw bone and the more that plaque is allowed to accumulate, the more mobile the teeth become within their sockets. In other words, bleeding gums is not a simple thing. If you are not careful and you take this for granted, your teeth could just fall off from your mouth—and that is a truly scary thought, right?
Anyway, the next time you get troubled by bleeding gums, make sure to see your dentist right away.
A mouthguard is a rubber or silicon-made appliance that a person wears for protection. A dentist may prescribe it to the upper or lower arch for various reasons:
- Night grinding. The most common use a mouthguard is as a nightguard. When a patient is a known bruxer he or she has involuntary clenching and night grinding that is usually observed during sleep, hence the name. To date, there is no permanent cure for night grinding. The only resolve a dentist can offer is to protect the teeth from destruction, through abrasion.
- Sports. A person engaged in sports or a similar physical activity will be prone to contact that will cause fractures. To somehow avoid any injury in the tooth or bone, some cushion may be afforded by the wearing of a sportsgaurd, which is a lot thicker than a night guard because it is expected to endure stronger blows.
Choosing the Right Guard
If you are prescribed with a guard, you will need it, regardless of the reason because it will sufficiently protect your teeth. Unfortunately, you may be swayed into getting the ready-made guards or the boil-and-bite ones from sports stores, but you have to understand that it’s going to be a wrong decision.
A ready-made or boil-and-bite product is not going to be a perfect fit, unlike the custom-made guards the dentist fabricates. When a dentist fabricates a guard, he uses a cast/model made from taking a mould of your teeth and jaw. Now, using this cast/model, the guards are fabricated using a vacuum former. This means that the finished product is a suction-fit guard that:
- Is going to fit perfectly. Since it is fabricated using a cast/model taken from the patient, you can take comfort that the guard will be an exact fit. It will be fabricated following the exact curvatures and dips of the upper or lower jaw, so it is snug fit. It will fit just one person, you, and because the fit is perfect you do no have to worry that it is just going to fall off or pop out from your mouth.
- Is more comfortable. Since it fits well, you can expect that it will be easy-to-wear. Ready-made products often hurt as they do not fit like a glove, but you do not have to worry about that with a custom-made guard.
- Is not going to cause bite problems. Since it fits well, you do not have to worry about developing any bite problems. An ill-fitting guard will cause a discrepancy in the bite so that there will be shift in the teeth. These changes will affect the teeth and bite, so straining the joints.
Of course, one more thing you can be sure of with a custom-made guard is that it is dentist-approved. You know you are wearing an appliance that your dentist will approve of, so you have nothing to worry about.
The entire body is connected by an intricate lacing of nerves. It runs along with the veins, arteries, capillaries and lymph vessels. In the mouth, there are complicated nerve innervations that course through the different structures of the mouth to supply the soft tissues, the teeth and the bone. This intricate webbing goes through the mouth and allows us to feel cold, hot and significantly, pain.
To suppress nerve function to allow the dentist to perform various procedures, he deposits anesthetic solution. The anesthesia is deposited along the area of the nerves to block pain sensors, so the procedure can go as it should. Depending on the dosage, numbness usually ensues for about one-three hours. The anesthesia wears off, gradually, and the sensation returns normal.
Nerve Injury and Damage
Unfortunately, there are some cases when the sensation does not entirely come back or does not come back at all. It is possible that the nerves have been damaged, as a consequence of surgery and if this happens to you, be wary.
Nerve injury and damage may a be mechanical error by the dentist or a surgical consequence that cannot be avoided. It may be caused by the wrong deposition of the anesthetic solution or the direct manipulation of the nerves, causing its injury and/or damage. The nerves may also be grazed, abraded or cut due to the unfortunate anatomical position of structures. A tooth that is situated within the area of a collection of nerves is a pressing threat for nerve injury or damage. In some cases, the nerves may be looped along the curvatures of the roots and the surgical removal of the tooth causes the injury.
Anatomical positions are neither the fault of the patient or the dentist. The only choice is to avoid surgery, but when surgery is necessary, you face the music.
Following surgery, you have to lookout for the following symptoms:
- Tingling sensation on the surgical site
- Heaviness or pressure sensation on the surgical site
- Partial or complete loss of sensation on the surgical site
- Increased sensitivity
- Burning sensation
Report everything to your dentist if you think you have incurred nerve injury or damage, after a surgical procedure. Take note that while soft tissues eventually undergo repair but it takes a long time. Some cases take weeks to resolve itself, but some can span for as long as six months to a year (or even longer). Unfortunately, nerves that have been completely damaged may no longer repair itself. This means that the symptoms will be permanent and they will be for life.
There are medications that you can take to boost nerve repair. Be patient and optimistic about healing, but be prepared for the awful consequence.