Archive for May, 2009

Foods That Cause Bad Breath

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

As mentioned previously in this website, the bacteria that create the volatile sulfur compounds of bad breath and taste disorders, react to various changes in their environment.

Of course, everyone knows that onions and garlic will create bad breath, but do you know why? It’s because the odorous molecules in onions and garlic are actually sulfur compounds themselves, called mercaptans. (Sulfur is nature’s way of creating odors.) You’re all familiar with the skunk. Its odor is created as a defense and/or attack mechanism. Skunk odor is made up of sulfur compounds (skatoles, etc.) which are natural sulfur compounds.

If food sits out too long, it will spoil. That action is due to anaerobic bacteria breaking down proteins in that particular food. In milk, the odor of sour milk is caused by relatives of the bugs that create bad breath, when they break down proteins in milk (and all dairy foods). A reaction takes place where the “bad breath bugs’ extract sulfur compounds from the amino acids in these proteins. Specifically, the amino acid cysteine is converted to hydrogen sulfide (the rotten egg smell) and methionine becomes methyl mercaptan (which smells like a cross between old socks and garlic.) The same analogy applies to meat if it sits out too long. There are 4 categories of foods that will result in an increase of sulfur production because these categories have a stimulating affect on the bacteria:

1. Drying Agents

2. Dense Protein Foods

3. Sugars

4. Acids

Drying Agents:

The most common drying agent in food is acohol. Alcohol is the basis of all adult beverages such as beer, wine, and hard liquor. It is also used, unfortunately in mouthwash, where it only makes the problem worse.

Alcohol is a drying agent, known chemically as a desiccant. It is used quite often in laboratories to dry out hard-to-reach areas in test tubes and beakers. The same end result takes place in the oral cavity.

Although cigarettes are not really food, smoking is probably the quickest way to dry out your mouth, with alcohol being the second. If you smoke, you are bound to have bad breath!

Dense Protein Foods:

Dairy foods are notorious for creating bad breath. An article in the Los Angeles Times once noted that over 50% of the population in southern California was lactose intolerant**. With regards to bad breath, we have found these people (numbering in the tens of millions) end up with more dense proteins available as bad breath fuel for the bacteria than those who have no problem with dairy foods (milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc.) The end result is a buildup of amino acids, which are easily converted into volatile sulfur compounds by the anaerobic bacteria found within the surface of your tongue and throat.

To a lesser extent, we have seen patients who have the same problem with other dense protein foods such as: beef, chicken, fish.

Another problem, thankfully rare, has to do with people who have an inability to break down certain proteins found in beans. This condition is called TMA (Trimethylaminuria) and is sometimes known as the “fish odor syndrome,” because the odor produced is similar to decaying fish. The odor consists of sulfur compounds, plus nitrogen compounds (amines). People with this condition must abstain from beans and other dense protein foods.

Sugars:

Wouldn’t it be great if we could get rid of bad breath by chewing on M&Ms? Or what if the cure for bad breath were Hershey Kisses?

That’s what the makers of ALTOIDS would have you believe. Altoids, and other products of the same ilk, are trying to fool the public into believing that a strong good taste in your mouth is equivalent to having good breath. It is so anti-science if you think about it, and it doesn’t even make sense.

By using concentrated mint flavorings, your taste buds pick up mint as a a taste. However, ALTOIDS, contains 2 types of sugar, which are fuel for the bacteria to reproduce and create more sulfur compounds. In addition, frighteningly enough, other bacteria can take the sugars and produce glycan strands, which in turn end up causing thick layers of plaque on your enamel and around your gums. This leads to tooth decay and gum disease – and of course worse breath than when you started.

Since you can’t smell your own breath, you just go merrily along with that great strong mint taste in your mouth, while others close to you are backing away – backing away from your increase bad breath, decayed teeth, and gross swollen, bleeding gums!

Stay away from candies, mints, and chewing gum if they contain sugar.  Oxygenating chewing gum releases oxygen molecules directly in your mouth and also contains the antibacterial agent, zinc gluconate, found in many cold medications. In addition, as a sweetening agent we chose Xylitol, which is a natural anti-decay compound (not sugar!)

Acidic Foods

Acidic foods are a problem as you’ll read below. Some foods you should watch out for are:

Coffee – both decaf and regular have acids (Tea is OK)

Tomato Juice

Citrus Juices:

Orange Juice

Pineapple Juice

Grapefruit Juice

pH is a term used to describe the acidity of the environment. (see table) The oral cavity has a normal pH of 6.5 (7 is neutral) which is in the acidic range.

We know that acids make the bacteria reproduce much faster. In order to decrease the production of odorous sulfur compounds, we need to neutralize the acid environment.

**According to the NIH (National Institutes of Health), lactose intolerance is the inability to digest significant amounts of lactose, the predominant sugar of milk. This inability results from a shortage of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down milk sugar into simpler forms that can then be absorbed into the bloodstream. When there is not enough lactase to digest the amount of lactose consumed, the results, although not usually dangerous, may be very distressing. While not all persons deficient in lactase have symptoms, those who do are considered to be lactose intolerant. For most people, though, lactase deficiency is a condition that develops naturally over time. After about the age of 2 years, the body begins to produce less lactase. However, many people may not experience symptoms until they are much older. Between 30 and 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant. Certain ethnic and racial populations are more widely affected than others. As many as 75% of all African Americans and American Indians and 90% of Asian Americans are lactose intolerant. The condition is least common among persons of northern European descent.

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Take 45 Seconds Each Day to Stop Morning Breath / Bad Breath

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

We’ve encountered just about every kind of bad breath condition possible.  We’ve seen the most offensive situations where you can smell the patient’s breath from across the room, to those lucky few with breath sweeter than a baby. We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve been able to tackle all types of bad breath, taste disorders, and dry mouth with our TheraBreath line of products.

Anyway, I wanted to share something special with you regarding a category of bad breath and sour/bitter taste common to almost everybody.

Stats About Morning Breath

Approximately 35% of the world’s population has a chronic, noticeable breath condition which usually leads them to seek help from a professional (which may often be incorrect.) This first group has bad breath concerns 24 hours a day, including taste disorders, dry mouth, and of course morning breath….

Another 35% of people are “borderline” – meaning that their breath seems fresh throughout the day, but they can easily reach chronic levels – if they eat certain foods (dairy, alcohol, sugars), after taking medication (antihistamines, antidepressants, high blood pressure medication) and always when they wake up – in other words, morning breath.

The remaining 30% rarely worry about their breath. The only exceptions are when they eat garlic and onions, or upon wakening (morning breath).

So what’s going on with morning breath?  Just about everyone has morning breath to some degree or another!

As we sleep throughout the night, our salivary glands slow down (for some older people, they shut down completely) because our brain knows we are not eating. This slowdown, combined with the constant flow of air over our palate (for those of us who are snorers or mouth-breathers) makes for a very dry environment on the tongue, within our oral cavity, and in the throat (the breeding grounds of the anaerobic sulfur-producing bacteria that cause bad breath and taste disorders).

As I discuss in my article about dry mouth, this creates an environment that is very conducive for morning breath.  Saliva is nature’s way of protecting us from bad breath, because healthy saliva contains high concentrations of oxygen, which is the natural enemy of anaerobic bacteria.  So if you get morning breath after a good night’s sleep, don’t worry – you’re not alone!

What most people don’t know (and this includes most medical and dental professionals), is that morning breath is not something that you have to live with.

The key is to find a way to stop the production of VSCs (volatile sulfur compounds) during the night as you are asleep. One way is to increase the production of saliva within the back of your throat and mouth during the night. However, this is very difficult to do – after all, you’re asleep! Furthermore, those of us who are mouth-breathers are drying out the back of our throats with each breath that we take throughout the night.

A better and easier way is to stop the production of volatile sulfur compounds by the bacteria that create morning breath – and this is exactly what AktivOxigen Tablets are designed to do!   What makes this rinse so effective is that you can actually swallow the resulting solution and slowly let it run down the back of your throat and tonsils. If you do this right before bedtime, this coats your throat for the entire night and virtually eliminates morning breath.

Also, for those of you who suffer from tonsilloliths (that’s the scientific term for those nasty odorous globs growing deep in the crypts of your tonsils) or congested sinuses will find instant relief from using the combination of AktivOxigen Tablets and Nasal-Sinus Drops. Nasal-Sinus Drops are potent drops you put in your nose that slowly trickle through your sinuses and down your throat destroying the bad breath bacteria on contact.

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Can Bleeding Gums and Other Periodontal Diseases Kill You?

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Links Between Gum Disease and Other Diseases:
gum disease
(Click on image above to view full size)

PerioTherapy combines the finest clinically effective compounds that work synergistically to attack the true cause of gum disease (periodontal disease) and bad breath. Recent research in Europe and the U.S. have proven a link between an increase in oral sulfur compounds (from bad breath), which initiate gum disease and bleeding gums (open wounds in your mouth).  Scarily enough, these open bleeding sites allow other dangerous toxins to enter the body’s blood stream.

The PerioTherapy System was designed for those who suffer with bleeding and swollen gums whether they have bad breath or not. There is a strong relationship between gum disease and bad breath, because volatile sulfur compounds (found in bad breath) are needed to initiate the penetration of dangerous toxins below the gum line to start periodontal disease. This new research supports our work in finding a non-surgical treatment for gum disease.

The synergy of these compounds has produced PerioTherapy:

PeriO2: The active ingredient in PerioTherapy releases potent oxygen molecules when in contact with these sulfur compounds. Immediately, a chemical conversion takes place that eliminates them safely and effectively. Once the thiols (sulfur compounds) are reduced, their initiation of allowing toxins into the blood stream disappears.

Whole Leaf Aloe Vera: This is not your ordinary aloe vera. It is specially grown for us in green houses to maintain its high concentration of pharmaceutical level elements. As everyone knows even plain aloe vera has been used to stop bleeding as a natural healing agent for thousands of years. Tests performed at a large metropolitan hospital on PerioTherapy’s form of whole leaf aloe vera indeed confirm its healing highly beneficial qualities. We use the highest concentration of whole leaf aloe vera in the World! (Do not be fooled by imitators!)

Tea Tree Oil: This is the secret ingredient in many natural medications. Tea tree oil is extracted through a complicated process from the leaves of an Australian tree. Physicians in the southern hemisphere have turned to the melalucca plant because the overuse of antibiotics has rendered formerly effective prescription medications useless. Properly formulated tea tree oil has been used in many cases as an anti-bacterial agent, when even the strongest antibiotics have failed. Our pharmaceutical grade tea tree oil initiates a healing response in sore, swollen, bleeding gums.

Zinc Gluconate: Zinc is the natural enemy of bacteria. It wasn’t until very recently that laboratories decided to use this very pleasant version of zinc (as opposed to nasty tasting zinc acetate or the astringent zinc chloride which burns the inside of your mouth). You may recognize this ingredient as the one that is used in many common cold medications – why?  It works!

Fluoride: We have added sodium fluoride to our PerioGel for two very good reasons: 1) It stops the decay process and 2) It helps to desensitize teeth with root exposure, a common symptom of gum disease.

So what’s wrong with commercial products?  A LOT is wrong!!  First of all, if they truly worked, why is there an epidemic of gum disease in the U.S.? – (where everyone constantly brushes, rinses, and gargles with the following ingredients!)

Here’s just a few of the chemicals that are thrown into the mix of the most commonly used products:

Soap: Yes, there is soap in toothpaste. It is known chemically as sodium lauryl sulfate (check out your shampoo bottle and you’ll see it listed near the top of ingredients.) Soap as everyone knows is very drying. Consequently, it will end up producing more of these sulfur compounds. Why is soap placed in toothpaste (it’s even in the so-called “natural” Tom’s of Maine – It’s put there to make it foam up. The big companies think you are stupid and that you won’t brush your teeth unless you see FOAM! It has no other use and of course, our PerioGel does not contain soap.

Saccharin: Nearly every toothpaste on the market contains saccharin to sweeten the product. Saccharin has been shown time and again to cause cancer in lab animals. PerioGel does not contain saccharin. We use a natural non-sugar sweeteners. Did you know that Crest toothpaste for Kids contains saccharin?  Would you give saccharin to your children? Of course not!  Then why do you let them brush their teeth with it (and possible swallow some, too!)?

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White Tongue, Geographic Tongue, Tongue Cleaning Information

Monday, May 18th, 2009

white tongue

A white tongue is something that nobody wants to have.  Not only does a coated tongue look abnormal, but if it is left untreated, it’s a strong indication of a breath problem. People who have the condition known as geographic tongue are definitely more likely to experience a white tongue. Geographic tongue simply means a tongue that has lots of grooves and fissures in it, and these grooves and fissures make an excellent breeding ground for the anaerobic bacteria that cause bad breath and a white tongue. The way around this problem is simply making sure that your tongue is kept as clean as possible. However, not all tongue cleaning is created equal….

Tongue cleaning (or tongue scraping) is a process that the majority of people in the United States don’t do on a daily basis.  It’s one of the most important steps you can take to keep your breath clean and fresh!

It’s not difficult to do, and it’s not even that time consuming. That extra minute or two per day can reap huge rewards in preventing bad breath, helping to prevent white tongue and returning it to its normal color.

Let me clarify a few things about tongue cleaning:
  1. It’s not necessary to scrape hardI’ve seen patients make their tongues bleed because they were pressing down too hard. In general, pressing harder does not remove more bacteria. You simply need to press hard enough so that the tongue cleaner contacts your tongue, flush across the cleaning surface. Try not to leave any gaps.   
  2. Tongue cleaning alone does not prevent bad breathTongue cleaning does not kill the bacteria that cause bad breath that are breeding below the surface of a geographic tongue. It simply removes the gunk on the surface of your tongue (mucus and food debris) which are a food source for the anaerobic bacteria. In order to get rid of those anaerobic bacteria (which are responsible for white tongue), you must use an oxygenating toothpaste which can penetrate beneath your tongues surface.  
  3. It’s not necessary to use one of those complex, expensive gizmos to successfully clean your tongue.  All you need is a fairly rigid instrument that you can easily make flush with the largest amount possible of your tongue’s surface area. The electronic tongue cleaners you see can be helpful if you have arthritis, difficulty with coordination, or in general have a tough time performing the actions listed below. 

Step-By-Step Instructions to Successfully Clean A Geographic Tongue and Prevent White Tongue

Here is an average tongue cleaning from start to finish from one of my patients who volunteered to allow me to take his picture.

  1. Starting at the very base of your tongue, place the tongue cleaner flush against your tongue’s surface and make slow sweeping strokes from back-to-front. Start at either side (left or right) and work your way to the other. Depending on the tongue cleaner you are using, you might need to make 3-4 different ‘swaths’ across your tongue. 
  2. Once the surface debris from your tongue has been removed, apply a small bead of oxygenating toothpaste to the head of your tongue cleaner. 
  3. Gently coat the surface of your tongue (as far back as possible without gagging) with the toothpaste. This allows it to penetrate below the surface of your tongue to neutralize those sulfur-producing anaerobic bacteria! There are more bacteria in the rear of your tongue than in the front. 
  4. Once your tongue is coated, allow the toothpaste to stay on the surface of your tongue as long as you can, up to 90 seconds is ideal. If you begin to cough, or your gag reflex kicks in, it’s alright to spit it out whenever you need to.     

  5. Ideally, it’s best to leave the toothpaste on the surface of your tongue, while you brush your teeth normally.  
  6.  

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Canker Sores and Bad Breath…Caused by Toothpaste?

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Canker Sores (Mouth Ulcers)

Canker Sores (Mouth Ulcers)

Canker sores, also known as “mouth ulcers,” plague the lives of millions of people all over the world. These small oral ulcers can make life unbearable when eating, drinking, speaking, or swallowing. Frustration sets in when your dentist or doctor doesn’t know how to respond to your questions about these annoying and recurring ulcerations.

Unfortunately, the public ends up creating their own canker sore problem by using commercial toothpastes, which contain an ingredient that is proved to be linked to canker sores. It’s called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), and it is placed into toothpastes and some mouthwashes in order to create foaming! (Sodium lauryl sulfate is also the main ingredient in your shampoo – go check it out.)

The harshness of this chemical has been proven to create microscopic damage to the oral tissue which lines the inside of your mouth, which then leads to canker sores.

What Causes Canker Sores ( Mouth Ulcers)?

The latest research shows that certain chemical compounds trigger the production of canker sores. Among those items is something that may shock unsuspecting people. It’s SOAP. Yes, but it’s soap, inside your mouth. For many years the major pharmaceutical companies have used soap (chemically known as sodium lauryl sulfate) in order to create a foaming agent when one brushes their teeth. Why? The foam does not provide any benefits to the toothpaste, but does fool the you, the user, into thinking that a foaming action is related to a “cleansing” action. After speaking to many of these pharmaceutical companies, the following excuse is used: “we use sodium lauryl sulfate as a surfactant, in order to blend all of our ingredients together and make them work more effectively.” (A surfactant is a chemical agent, which allows other chemical molecules to get closer to each other. However, there are many surfactants out there that are not soapy or do not cause allergic reactions resulting in canker sore production.

One of the most exciting advances has been the establishment of the link between canker sores and an ingredient common to almost all toothpastes. The additive SLS may be a culprit in canker sore formation.

SLS acts just like a detergent. It is used in the laboratory as a membrane destabilizer and solubilizer of proteins and lipids. SLS is used in toothpaste to emulsify (mix) oil and water based ingredients together. In your toothpaste, it creates the foam you get when brushing. Since it is classified as a soap, you will easily understand why this ingredient can cause drying inside the mouth for many individuals. The dryness is one of several factors that will lead to bad breath.

The thought is that SLS may, in susceptible individuals, cause microscopic trauma or membrane disruption to the skin cells in the mouth. This along with trauma or actions of the immune system may lead to canker sore formation.

Recent studies have shown a link between the use of toothpastes containing SLS and the occurrence of RAS (canker sores).

The Science of Canker Sores:

Canker sores are interchangeably known as: mouth ulcers, aphthous ulcers, recurrent aphthous stomatitis, or oral ulcers.

Some people (and doctors) confuse canker sores with “cold sores” (fever blisters). We know both are painful, annoying, and recurring. Here are the major differences: 

 

Canker Sores

Cold Sores

Only occur inside the mouth

Mostly on outside of mouth – sometimes on the inside of the mouth, but only on “hard” surfaces (palate)

Not Contagious

Contagious

Not Viral (not caused by a virus)

Caused by Viruses

Caused by damage to oral tissue, often by sodium lauryl sulfate, a common foaming agent ingredient in almost all toothpastes

The first sign is appearance of small blisters (vesicles)

 The following is a synopsis of 3 European Scientific Studies:

In a study at the University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway, Drs. Barvoll and Brokstad revealed a 60-70% reduction in the number of canker sores in patients who used SLS-free toothpaste during the three month test period. Additional studies have since shown equally promising results.

In the clinical studies, patients using SLS toothpaste displayed a greater amount of desquamation (loss of a layer of skin lining the inside of the mouth). This has led to the theory that SLS may contribute to RAS (canker sores) by causing injury to the oral epithelial cells (skin cells lining the inside of the mouth).

SLS, by denaturing protective mucus proteins, may also disrupt the protective layer of mucus which lines the inside of the mouth (a denatured protein is a protein which has lost its three dimensional shape thereby becoming nonfunctional and useless). The denaturing of mucus proteins makes the cells lining the mouth more susceptible to injury and canker sore formation.

References

1. Herlofson, Bente and Pal Barkvoll sodium lauryl sulfate and recurrent aphthous ulcers: A preliminary study Acta Odontol Scand 1994; 52:257-259

2. Herlofson, Bente and Pal Barkvoll The effect of two toothpaste detergents on the frequency of recurrent aphthous ulcers Acta Odontol Scand 1996; 54(3): 150-153

3. Barkvoll, Pal and G. Rolla Possible effects of sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) on the oral mucosa [abstract] J Dent Res 1989; 68:991

What is especially exciting is the fact that many of my patients have experienced tremendous improvements as a result of using SLS-free toothpaste. Additionally, many of the visitors to this website have also found canker sore relief by using an SLS-free toothpaste.

Research is being conducted to determine what makes a person susceptible to canker sores in the first place as well as what actions and mechanisms trigger canker sore outbreaks. Among those things that may trigger an attack or make a person more susceptible are:

A. SLS found in Toothpaste and some mouthwashes

B. Allergies to Food Products and Certain Preservatives

C. Trauma from Brushing your Teeth too vigorously

D. Lip Biting

E. Stress

F. Trauma from Eating Hard, Rough Foods (Potato Chips, Pretzels)

G. Deficiencies in Vitamin B12, iron, and folic acid.

Current theories on the causes of canker sores have focused on the immune system. This research suggests that canker sores may be caused by the body’s own immune system attacking the cells lining the inside of the mouth.

The first canker sores usually occur between the ages of 10 and 20. During life, episodes usually but not always become less frequent and less severe. Interestingly, women often report increased susceptibility to canker sore formation during certain times of their menstrual cycle. Some women report complete relief from canker sores during pregnancy.

Interestingly, canker sores affect people to varying degrees of severity. Some people may get an occasional outbreak of canker sores once or twice a year while others may suffer near continuous overlapping episodes of canker sores.

On the Subject of Preventing Canker Sores (Mouth Ulcers)

The most important piece of advice we can give you is to stay away from toothpaste which contains sodium lauryl sulfate (click for list).

Secondly, trauma to the inside of the mouth may trigger the production of canker sores. This trauma includes overzealous tooth brushing, biting your cheek or tongue, and scraping the inside of your mouth with hard or sharp foods (like hard pretzels).

Cut down on eating foods like potato chips, hard pretzels, cut apples, and hard candies which might nick, abrade, or otherwise traumatize the oral tissue.

As far as overzealous brushing, most people can not consciously stop brushing so hard, because toothbrushing is such an ingrained habit. Consequently, we encourage them to use our SuperSoft Nylon Toothbrush, made for us by experienced toothbrush manufacturers in England. It’s virtually impossible to cause damage with these soft, yet strong bristles.

We know that many bite the insides of their cheeks while sleeping or out of nervousness and stress. We suggest that a mouth guard be worn during sleep. This is often very effective at preventing further oral trauma. Contact your dentist for more information.

Reactions to certain food products may be responsible for many cases of canker sores. Among the foods that may cause canker sores in certain people are: nuts, peanut butter, seafood, wheat products, chocolate, and milk.

Treatment of Canker Sores

Usually canker sores clear within 7-14 days without treatment. During this time, however, the canker sores can be painful especially when people eat or drink. Treatment helps ease the pain and may help reduce the amount of time it takes for the ulcers to go away.

Other Viable Treatments:

1. Anti-Microbial Mouthwashes

Surprisingly the use of anti-microbial mouthwashes has provided effective relief for many. Canker sores are not caused by a bacteria or virus so the mechanisms by which these anti-microbial mouthwashes work remain unclear. Commonly used are anti-microbial oxygenating mouthwashes (TheraBreath Oral Rinse and PerioTherapy Oral Rinse).

2. Analgesic (Pain Relieving) and Protective Ointments and Gels:

Your local drug stores stocks some pain relieving medications, including Zilactin or Oragel. After application, they create a protective cover over the sensitive areas.

3. Corticosteroid Rinses and Gels:

These are prescription medications that must be authorized by your dentist or physician and should only be used for severe or painful cases. The application of these types of gels and rinses may be painful at first. The most common is a topical steroid gel (non-alcoholic) of lidex applied very gently to the ulcer 2-4 times per day.

Systemic Conditions Associated with Canker Sores (Mouth Ulcers)

In a very small number of cases, canker sores may be indicative of a bodily (systemic) disorder. A medical condition known as Behcet’s Disease, for instance, has amongst its symptoms: canker sores, genital lesions, eye lesions, and dermal afflictions.

Those infected with HIV may also develop “canker sore-like” ulcers.

Some digestive conditions display canker sores as part of their disorder. These include: Crohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and gluten hypersensitivity (wheat allergy).

Consult your physician if any of the above sound like they may be part of your canker sore problem.

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