3 Ways to Prevent Bad Breath

woman with bad breathWe’ve all experienced the embarrassment of bad breath at some point in our lives. Maybe it was after a hearty dish of garlicky pasta or your morning cup of coffee. Or perhaps it’s something you deal with every day. Either way, we think it’s pretty fair to say that nobody wants to live with bad breath. That’s especially true for your dentist in Sacramento. In fact, for us, chronic bad breath goes beyond embarrassment and may actually be a sign of a serious oral health condition. 

What’s So Bad About Bad Breath?

To some, bad breath may seem like no big deal, and sometimes that’s true. Temporary bad breath that’s caused by something we ate or drank is usually nothing to concern yourself with. However, when bad breath doesn’t go away even after brushing your teeth, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist in Sacramento. Bad breath is one of the top signs of a serious oral health condition called gum disease. Untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss, which brings on a whole other set of problems. But it doesn’t only put your oral health at risk. Gum disease has also been linked to heart disease, respiratory problems, and increased risk for stroke among other serious whole-body concerns. 

Causes of Bad Breath

There are numerous things that can cause us to have less than fresh breath outside of the foods and drinks we consume. However, the common, underlying cause of bad breath is attributed to a buildup of bacteria in the mouth. If these bacteria are not removed by properly brushing and flossing daily, they will feed on plaque buildup and produce a stinky byproduct called hydrogen sulfide. This is what we smell when we get a whiff of bad breath. 

How to Avoid Bad Breath

The best way to treat bad breath is to prevent it in the first place. Here are a few things you can do that will help keep your breath kissably fresh.  

  1. Brush and Floss. You’re probably tired of hearing your dentist in Sacramento talk about how important it is to brush and floss regularly. But the truth is this is the best way to not only prevent bad breath, but also protect your overall oral health. Brush your teeth every day for about two minutes, and make sure you gently brush your tongue, too. Floss at least once a day to remove food particles and bacteria that found their way deep in between teeth.
  2. Drink Plenty of Water. Many health experts will recommend drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day to help our bodies function optimally, and we agree. Staying properly hydrated helps neutralize acid and wash away bacteria that could otherwise lead to bad breath. When a mouth is too dry, bacteria can take over and the chance of bad breath increases. 
  3. Maintain Dental Visits. Seeing your dentist at least every six months will do several things for your oral health. First, these visits give your dental hygienist the chance to perform a professional dental cleaning that can remove plaque and tartar that at-home brushing alone just won’t touch. If it’s not removed, plaque and tartar can cause bad breath as well as decay, cavities, and other concerns. Also, bi-annual dental visits make sure that your oral health is being monitored regularly so if any problem does pop up your dentist can treat it quickly, easily, and often prevent other problems. 

Chronic bad breath isn’t something that will go away on its own, and it can lead to more serious and costly dental treatment down the road. If you have bad breath that you can’t quite seem to fix, schedule an appointment with your dentist. 

The Surprising Connection Between Gum Disease & Heart Disease

heart health monthEvery February, we celebrate Heart Health Month to raise awareness of how we can both evaluate our risk for heart disease as well as what we can do to reduce that risk. While it may seem out of character to hear your dentist in Sacramento talk about heart health, the truth is, there is a direct link between poor oral health and an increased risk of heart disease.  

Gum Disease & Heart Disease

The main concern between oral health and heart disease is gum disease. Gum disease is an infection in the gum tissues that, if left untreated, could lead to painful gums and even tooth loss. But that’s not all. Gum disease has also been linked to an increased risk of heart attack. 

When infection infiltrates our gums, it also has a direct pathway to the bloodstream. And when infection enters the blood, your body reacts by producing an overabundance of C-Reactive Protein (CRP). Elevated levels of CRP can cause: 

  • inflamed arteries
  • blood clots
  • heart attacks
  • strokes 

Too much CRP may even be one of the top warning signs of a heart attack. In fact, according to The New England Journal of Medicine, elevated CRP levels can be more accurate at predicting a heart attack than high cholesterol.

What Causes Gum Disease?

Now that we know that gum disease can affect more than just your oral health, let’s take a closer look at what causes it in the first place. Gum disease is usually caused by a buildup of plaque brought on by poor oral hygiene. The first stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis. Quick intervention from your dentist in Sacramento can help the problem from becoming more serious, but if gingivitis isn’t treated it can quickly progress and put overall health at risk. 

Gum disease can come on suddenly, and sometimes without any symptoms. Other times, symptoms are mistaken as normal and treatment isn’t sought. This is one reason why seeing your dentist regularly is so important. Your dental team will be able to diagnose gum disease early if you visit every six months, making treatment more successful. 

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Some of the most common signs of gum disease include: 

  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • Puffiness or tenderness of the gums
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Loose-feeling teeth

If you do notice any of those symptoms, contact your Sacramento dentist to schedule an appointment as soon as you can. 

Gum disease can more than double your risk of suffering a fatal heart attack or stroke. Reduce your risk by brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and of course, seeing your dentist every six months or as recommended. Other steps you can take to protect yourself include not smoking and eating a well-balanced diet.