The Doctor Is In- How to cure, prevent bad breath

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KPLR)- Dr. Sonny Saggar, KPLR 11's own 'Doctor Is In' joined us to discuss the often neglected topic of bad breath. He brought along Dr. Cyndi Blalock, a general dentist with Cardinal Dental in St. Peters, Missouri. They offered tips to cure and prevent bad breath.

Ways to cure and prevent bad breath: 

1. Instead of breath mints, breath sprays and mouthwash, what can people do to address the cause of bad breath?
Bad breath odors can arise from the sinuses, like if you have a sinus infection, or from the mouth. The surface of the tongue is similar to that of a fine brush. The natural surface of the tongue can catch food debris and also bacteria. This coating on the tongue can also catch coffee and other foul smelling irritants that can increase the mal-odor. By removing this with a tongue scraper, one can actually remove the foul smelling debris and bacteria and prevent the odor from returning.

Coffee drinkers can scrape their tongues after a morning cup.

2. There`s more to bad breath than just a smelly tongue.
Another way to decrease bad breath on a date is to watch what you eat. Foods like garlic and onions can cause bad breath issues, as well as certain fish. By eliminating them from your meal, you're going to greatly cut down on the risk of bad breath.

3. What about a stick of gum or a breath mint? Can that do the trick?
We all know that a good date may end in a goodnight kiss, and daters may want to have an extra dose of freshness before that happens. But it is important to choose the right type of chewing gum or mints. These products that contain sugar should definitely be avoided, as they can cause dental cavities. Sugar free or xylitol containing mints are a great choice in situations like this.

4. Does bad breathe say anything about a person`s general health? Absolutely it does!
Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth may be a warning sign of gum (periodontal) disease. Gum disease is caused by the buildup of plaque on teeth. Bacteria cause the formation of toxins to form, which irritate the gums. If gum disease continues untreated, it can damage the gums and jawbone.

A dry mouth (also called xerostomia) also can cause bad breath. Saliva is necessary to moisten the mouth, neutralize acids produced by plaque, and wash away dead cells that accumulate on the tongue, gums, and cheeks. If not removed, these cells decompose and can cause bad breath. Dry mouth may be a side effect of various medications, salivary gland problems, or continuous breathing through the mouth.

Many other diseases and illnesses are associated with bad breath such as respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia or bronchitis, chronic sinus infections, postnasal drip, diabetes, chronic acid reflux, and liver or kidney problems.

The choice to stop smoking and drink lots of water are good ideas for both your general health as well as for preventing bad breath.

5. Other recommendations.
If it has been more than 6 months since your last professional dental cleaning, it is possible that there is odor harboring buildup stuck on the teeth or below the gum-lines.

Dr. Saggar is also an Internist, an Emergency Physician, and the Founder of stlhealthworks.com, which includes the St. Louis urgent cares locations downtown, Eureka, North City and Creve Coeur.