All posts by Dr. Karen Bai (DDS)

Why Do I Have Bad Breath?

Why Do I Have Bad Breath?

Halitosis, or bad breath, can be a periodic or persistent unpleasant odour coming from your mouth. For most people, the millions of bacteria that live in the warm, moist conditions in the mouth are the primary cause of bad breath. Some types of bad breath, such as “morning breath”, are considered normal because the saliva that usually washes away the odor in our mouths is reduced as night.

The following conditions may be a contributing factor of bad breath:

  • Bad dental hygiene caused by poor brushing and flossing.
  • Infections in the mouth such as gum disease.
  • Respiratory tract infections such as sinus, lung, and throat infections.
  • Foods, such as garlic, onions, and tobacco use.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Illnesses such as diabetes, liver disease, sinus disease, kidney disease, lung disease, and many others.
  • Psychiatric illness can cause patients to perceive that they have bad breath when in fact they don’t.

Symptoms Of Bad Breath

Someone who suffers from bad breath may not know he or she has bad breath because their nose has become accustomed to the unpleasant odor. Sometimes people only notice they have bad breath when others detect it during speech and recoil away, or when someone tells them.

Some symptoms associated with bad breath include:

  • Poor dental hygiene, plaque, food debris between teeth.
  • Infections in the mouth may cause red and swollen gums.
  • Respiratory tract infections such as sore throats, stuffy noses, swollen lymph nodes, and discolored mucous.
  • External agents such as cigarette can appears on fingers and coffee stains on teeth.
  • Dry mouth which causes difficulty in swallowing foods.
  • Systemic illnesses like lung disease, diabetes, and kidney failure.

Diagnosis Of Bad Breath

Your dentist or physician can notice your breath and examine your medical history and any medications you are taking that may be causing it. Something the smell of your breath can be an indicator of the cause. Fruity smelling breathe can be a sign of diabetes while a urine smell can sometimes indicate kidney failure. In some cases, your dentist may refer you to a periodontist and a diagnostic test may be performed to diagnose the cause of your bad breath.

Prevention And Treatment Of Bad Breath

If the cause of your bad breath is due to a dental problem, the issue can often be prevented by daily brushing, flossing and rinsing with a mouthwash. Drinking lots of water is also a good idea since it increases saliva production. Occasionally rinsing out your mouth to wash away food particles and chewing on sugar-free gum, carrots, and celery to loosen plaque is also a good idea. Treatments for bad breath can vary depending on the cause.  If you have bad breath in conjunction with painful, swollen gums, loose teeth, or if you have a fever, sore throat and cough, you should call your dentist or physician and see if you have an underlying condition that needs requires medical attention.

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What are Dental Implants?

What are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are metal roots or posts that are attached into the jawbone underneath your gums. The posts allow custom made replacement teeth to be painlessly mounted in your mouth. Since the posts are securely fused in the jawbone, they provide an excellent support for artificial teeth. One of the main complaints for dentures and bridges is that they shift and move around in your mouth. With dental implants your artificial teeth no longer move around, and they feel natural even when you’re eating and talking.  In order to receive dental implants, you must have healthy gums and a good strong jawbone that can support the metal posts. Good oral hygiene and regular followup visits are needed to ensure the success of dental implants. A visit to your dentist will indicate if you are a candidate for the procedure.

There are two main types of implants to consider:

Endosteal implants are surgically implanted right into your jawbone. After the gum tissue has healed on top, another surgery is needed to attach the posts and the artificial teeth.

Subperiosteal implants have a metal frame that fits onto the jawbone below the gums. Once the gums heal, the frame is fixed to the jawbone. Attached to the frame are posts which protrude through the gums and allow the artificial teeth to be mounted.

Dental Implants

Metal posts are placed below the gums.

Dental Implants

The artificial teeth are attached to the posts.

Dental Implants

Dental implants provide a very stable and secure fit.

Dental Implants

Dental implants act as a base for a single replacement tooth.

Source and artwork from Colgate.com

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How to Properly Brush Your Teeth

How to Properly Brush Your Teeth

Brushing your teeth seems like a simple task, but you’d be surprised how often people do it wrong. Dentists recommend that a proper brushing should take at least two minutes. It’s no wonder that most people don’t do it properly because they don’t brush for that long! In order to achieve this time, try using a stopwatch until you get a good feel for the time, and take care to use short, gentle strokes to clean the gumline and hard to reach places in the back of your mouth. A thorough brushing should clean the inner and outer surfaces of your upper and lower teeth, all the chewing surfaces, the gumline, and your tongue–this is important because a clean tongue helps to freshen your breath.

How Do I Choose The Right Toothbrush?

Toothbrushes come in all shapes, sizes, and hardness. A soft-bristled brush is often the best for removing plaque and food particles. Smaller shaped heads are also better since they are able to clean hard to reach places that a bigger head might not be able to access. Powered toothbrushes can be a good choice for those who have difficulty brushing.

What Type Of Toothpaste Should I Use?

Picking the right toothpaste usually comes down to personal preference. A variety of them are available, including ones designed to take on cavities, gingivitis, teeth whitening, sensitivity, tartar and stain removal.  Consult your dentist if you are unsure what toothpaste is best for you.

When Do I Replace My Toothbrush?

It’s a good idea to change your toothbrush every three months, or whenever it begins to show signs of wear.

How to Properly Brush Your Teeth

Holding the brush at a 45° angle against the gumline, gently sweep and roll the bristles away from the gumline.

How to Properly Brush Your Teeth

Brush outside, inside, and on chewing surfaces using short back-and-forth strokes.

How to Properly Brush Your Teeth

Gently brush your tongue to freshen your breath.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source and artwork from Colgate.com

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How to Properly Floss Your Teeth

How to Properly Floss Your Teeth

Proper flossing is the best and easiest way to remove unwanted plaque and food particles in places where your toothbrush simply can’t reach. Plaque can accumulate between your teeth and under your gumline where brushing simply won’t do you any good. It can only be removed by flossing.

If you’re not sure how to floss properly, follow these techniques to get the maximum benefits from flossing:

  • Begin with about 18 inches of floss. Wrap it around your index or middle fingers until you have about an inch or 2 inches of dental floss left between your fingers.
  • Hold the floss tight and slide it up and down between your teeth. The floss should gently curve under the gumline of each tooth.
  • Try and use clean floss after you clean each tooth.
  • Remove the floss by using a back-and-forth motion to slide it out between the teeth.

Types of Dental Floss

Dental floss comes in two types, Nylon (multifilament) floss and PTFE (monofilament) floss. Nylon floss comes in a variety of flavors and can be waxed or unwaxed. It tends to shred apart into smaller fibers when it gets cut between teeth. A more expensive option is PTFE floss, this single filament floss slides easily between teeth and is shred-resistant. Whatever your preference, both types of floss excel at removing plaque ,which if not removed can cause gum disease and tooth decay.

How to Properly Floss Your Teeth

Cut an 18 inch length of floss and leave between one to two inches of floss between your fingers.

How to Properly Floss Your Teeth

Slide the floss up and down each tooth while following its curve.

How to Properly Floss Your Teeth

Remember to gently clean under the gumline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source and artwork from Colgate.com

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The 10 Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth

The 10 Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth

You are what you eat, and that phrase holds true not just for the health of your body but your teeth as well. Admit it! Many of us are guilty for eating more than our share of candy bars and sugary drinks during our childhood and even well into our 20s and 30s. Eventually, all those years of packing on the sugary calories not only affects our waistlines but our teeth. You may think cavities and tooth sensitivity may never go away, but in fact it’s never too late to start making positive changes to our diet that not only taste great but keep our teeth healthy!

To understand why teeth decay, one must understand that every time you drink and eat starchy, sugary foods, you’re not only feeding your stomach, but the millions of tiny bacteria inside your mouth. The bacteria form a thin, invisible layer of plaque that covers every surface of your teeth. The sugars and starches that come in contact with the plaque create acids that harm teeth long after you’ve finished eating. Over time, that acid wears down the teeth’s enamel and causes cavities to form. That same sticky film of plaque also damages your teeth by forming various toxins that attack the gums and bones which support the teeth.

Want to know what to eat for a healthy smile? Here’s a list of food and drinks you should add to your diet to help combat plaque, and several others you should avoid.

Foods That Are Good For Your Teeth

fruits-and-vegetables 1. Fruits and Vegetables – The American Dental Association recommends eating foods that contain lots of fibre because they have a detergent-like effect on the mouth which helps to clean away plaque. Fruits and veggies also stimulate the release of saliva, which aside from brushing and flossing, is your best defense against cavities. These foods are also beneficial because of their high water content which acts to dilute the sugars they contain. It is recommended that acidic fruits, such as citruses, tomatoes, and lemons, should be consumed as part of a larger meal in order to minimize the effects of the acids they contain.
dairy-meat-nuts 2. Dairy Products, Nuts and Meats – Yogurt, cheese, milk and all other dairy products are beneficial for teeth because they contain calcium and phosphates, minerals which can be naturally redeposited into tooth enamel after they have been removed by acid decay. Dairy products not only help to produce saliva, but some cheeses (such as cheddar) contain alkali which works to neutralize acids in your mouth. Nuts, chicken, and other meats also contain many of these same elements needed to remineralize your teeth
Green and black tea 3. Green and Black Teas – Both these types of teas contain polyphenols that either kill or suppress plaque bacteria. Polyphenol substances prevent their growth, thereby preventing them from producing tooth-attacking acid. Additionally, the water used to brew your tea may also be a source of fluoride.
Sugarless chewing gum  4. Sugarless Gum – Sugarless chewing gum is great for removing food particles stuck in tiny crevices in your mouth and for generating saliva. Twenty minutes after eating, the saliva in your mouth begins to neutralize the acids and enzymes that attack your teeth and helps to replace calcium, phosphate, and other minerals which are lost in the enamel.
fluoride 5. Foods Containing Fluoride– Fluoridated drinking water has dramatically helped to reduce tooth decay. You get extra fluoride in your diet from powdered juices (make sure they don’t contain a lot of sugar) and dehydrated soups. Poultry products, powdered cereals, seafood and many other types of commercially prepared foods also contain lots of fluoride.

Foods That Are Bad For Your Teeth

Soft Drinks 1. Soft Drinks – Carbonated soft drinks are the leading source of added sugar amongst teens and children. Aside from being laden with sugar, many soft drinks contain acids that erode tooth enamel like phosphoric acid and citric acid. Try to limit your consumption of sugary soft drinks as well as coffee and tea with added sugar, and avoid day-long sipping of these drinks which exposes your teeth to constant decay causing acids. If you can’t give up your coffee and tea, try using a straw to reduce the contact of the fluid with your teeth.
Baked Sweets 2. Baked Sweets – These culprits come in the form of cakes, cookies, muffins, pies, and pretzels. Condiments like pancake syrup and jam are also guilty because they stick to your teeth and provide a fuel source for unhealthy bacteria.
Starchy Foods 3. Starchy Foods – Starchy foods like soft breads, french fries, and potato chips pose a problem because they can easily get stuck and trapped in your teeth.
Hard Candies 4. Hard Candies – Lollipops, hard candies, caramels, chocolate bars, mints and cough drops are all poor food choices because they contains large amounts of refined sugar. And bacteria love refined sugar!
Liquids That Dry Out Your Mouth 5. Liquids That Dry Out Your Mouth – Alcohol and many types of medications may dry out your mouth, eliminating the beneficial effects of saliva. If you take medications which cause this problem, talk to your doctor or dentist about using fluoride rinses or fluoride gels to brush your teeth.

How To Eat For A Healthy Mouth

It can be hard to give up the food you love, so if you do continue to eat sugary and starchy foods at least try to make them a small part of your main meals and reduce or altogether omit them as part of an in-between-meal snack. When you feel like you must have a snack, choose something nutritious and consider drinking a glass of water to wash out any food particles and acids. After your meal, chew sugarless gum to increase saliva flow. To reduce your sugar intake consider using sugar substitutes that look and taste like sugar, but don’t promote the growth of harmful bacteria. Erythritol, sorbitol, isomalt, saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, mannitol and sucralose are all examples of sugar substitutes that are available for you to use as a replacement in drinks and recipes. On food labels, if you look under sugars or carbohydrates, you can determine if the sugarless or sugar-free foods you are buying contain natural sweeteners or not by examining the ingredients label. If the words ends in ‘-ose’ (such as sucrose and fructose), this usually indicates the presence of a natural sweetener.

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What are Canker Sores and Mouth Sores?

What are Canker Sores and Mouth Sores?

Mouth Irritations And Oral Lesions

Irritations and oral lesions can be spots, sores, or swelling around the mouth, tongue, and lips. They consist of numerous types of disorders, including cold sores, canker sores, leukoplakia and candidiasis. Mouth sores are very common, about a third of people will be affected by them at some point in their lives.  The irritations and lesions they cause are more than just a nuisance, they can be painful and interfere with a person’s speech and eating.  If your mouth sore doesn’t go away in week, you should have it examined as it could indicate a much more serious disease like HIV or cancer.

How Do I Tell the Difference Between A Lesion And A Mouth Sore?

These signs can indicate the presence of an oral lesion or mouth sore:

Small white swellings or sores surrounded by  redness indicate canker sores. Often confused with cold sores, canker sores occur inside the mouth and are not contagious.  Canker sores grow as a single sore or a cluster of sores. They can recur in your mouth and are believed to be cause by problems with your immune system. Bacteria, viruses, stress, allergies and many other factors may also play a role in their development.

Painful, fluid filled blisters near the lips, nose and chin are caused by cold sores. Also known as herpes simplex or fever blisters, cold sores are caused by a type of herpes virus and are highly contagious. Children are often the first to be infected, although they might not show any symptoms. Once infected, the virus remains in the body and can occasionally causes blisters to recur.

A thick, whitish-color patch on the gums, tongue, or inner cheek can be a sign of leukoplakia. Smoking and tobacco use are associated with leukoplakia, as well as broken teeth and bad fitting dentures. It is recommended that a biopsy be take if you have leukoplakia since a small fraction of the cases cause cancer.

A creamy, yellow-white or red patch occurring inside the mouth is a sign of candidiasis, or oral thrush,  a type of  fungal infection caused by yeast. The infection is painful and common among babies, people who wear dentures, and those with a weakened immune system.

Treatments For Mouth Irritations And Oral Lesions

Canker sores usually heal on their own after a week, but recurrences are common. Ointments, pain relievers, antibiotics, and antimicrobial mouth rinses are all effective ways to remedy canker sores.

Cold sores also heal in about a week. Since there is no cure for the herpes infection, the sores can reoccur due to allergies, fever, and other environmental factors.  Non-prescription topical anesthetics and prescription antiviral drugs can provide relief and reduce the severity of the infection.

Leukoplakia can be treated by removing the cause of the lesion. This includes quitting smoking and tobacco use, or replacing old ill-fitting dentures with new ones.

Candidiasis treatment involves taking antifungal medications, practicing good oral hygiene (such as cleaning your dentures) or stopping the use of antibiotics and other drugs which may be causing the outbreaks.

Canker Sores and Mouth Sores

Canker Sore

Canker Sores and Mouth Sores

Fever Blister

 

 

 

 

 

Source and artwork from Colgate.com

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How often should you visit the dentist?

How often should you visit the dentist?

So you brush and floss regularly and your teeth appear to be in good health with no pain. Do you still need to see your dentist every 6 months? The answer is Yes!

A good dental hygiene routine involves regular dental visits not only to check the state of your oral health but your general health as well. If your teeth and gums are in poor condition or you have a periodontal disease, the rest of your body may also be affected. That’s why it’s important for you to see your dentist twice a year.

Why You Should See Your Dentist

There are millions of bacteria residing inside your mouth. Most of them are harmless, but if left uncontrolled, the bacteria can cause infections, tooth decay and gum disease. The inflammation you see in unhealthy gums is the body’s way of responding to an infection. If left untreated tooth and bone loss can occur and other ailments such as diabetes and heart disease and stroke could also be aggravated.

Good oral health starts at home but it’s also important to see a dentist for regular check-ups in order to get a proper cleaning, regular fluoride treatments, and a thorough examination of your teeth by a trained professional.

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