- Health & Wellness
- Dr. Frischer
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Do you wake up with bad breath? Almost all of us do. In fact, for every 3 of us, one probably has noticeable bad breath 24 hours a day. What causes "morning breath" and can we improve it?
Morning breath is a type of halitosis. When we sleep, our normal saliva flow slows, drying out the mouth. As we age, the salivary glands produce less saliva, which dries it further. If we snore or breathe through our mouths, the constant flow of air over the palate and tongue makes for an even dryer environment. When our mouth dries out, anaerobic (bacteria which functions without oxygen), foul-smelling bacteria proliferates. Saliva is actually our natural way of minimizing bad breath, because healthy saliva contains high concentrations of oxygen, which is the natural enemy of anaerobic bacteria.
There are a number of other common causes of bad breath, and bad morning breath in particular. Some widely used medications cause dry mouth. Smoking dries up saliva, inhibits saliva production, and raises the temperature in the mouth, making it an even better breeding ground for bacteria. Smoking also leads to nicotine and tar buildup on the teeth, tongue and cheeks. Caffeine affects our mouth and teeth: as a diuretic it leads to a drier mouth, and the acid in coffee not only promotes the growth of odor-producing bacteria, but may also increase the risk of tooth decay. Allergies can produce mucus that drips to the back of the throat. This post-nasal drip becomes a food source for bacteria to grow and multiply, and if it becomes infected, will encourage even more.
What can we do to treat bad breath, morning, noon or night?
* Because odor-causing bacteria accumulates between teeth and on the tongue, brush and floss regularly and thoroughly. Don't consume anything other then water after your evening brushing.
* Mouthwash will help, but only temporarily
* Chewing sugarless gum or using breath mints will help to freshen breath after eating problem foods, though this effect may be temporary. Gum also cleans the surface of teeth of food debris.
* Consume parsley and coriander as a natural breath freshener, and limit garlic and onions!
* See a dentist regularly to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
Good health and sweet breath!
Dr. Alan Frischer is former chief of staff and former chief of medicine at Downey Regional Medical Center. Write to him in care of this newspaper at 8301 E. Florence Ave., Suite 100, Downey, CA 90240.
Published: June 28, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 11