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Holistic Dentistry: Do You Have Halitosis?

by Idelle Brand, DDS

Halitosis. It can be the gossip of conversations, the ruin of romance and the end of intimacy. When it comes to bad breath, you are always the last to know. People will mention a run in your stockings or a stain on your tie, but not bad breath. It’s as though you’ve been blacklisted from society and alienated from co-workers.

Bad breath is a very common problem and there are many different causes. The bacteria that coat your teeth and gums can usually cause persistent bad breath. However, strong foods like garlic and onions can add to the problem. Smoking, medication, as well as certain illnesses, such as nasal and stomach conditions, can also contribute to this problem.

The chances are, we all know someone who has halitosis, but very few people feel brave enough to discuss the problem. It is obviously a very delicate matter to tell someone they have bad breath. There is always the risk that they will be offended or embarrassed and may never speak to you again! (This might be a good thing.) However, it is always worth remembering that bad breath may be the result of any number of problems. Halitosis can originate from three main places: the mouth, sinuses or stomach.

Gum disease (bleeding or swollen gums) may be one of the warning signs of halitosis. A bad taste in your mouth is also a give away. Your dentist will be able to see and treat this problem during your regular visits. The earlier the problems are found, the more effective the treatment will be. The bacteria on your teeth and gums not only cause gum disease but also tooth decay. If you see your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings, this will help prevent bad breath, periodontal gum disease and possibly cavities.

So what about the sinus and stomach issues? Dr. Idelle Brand is a holistic dentist. Her whole body approach to oral health will cover all the possible causes of halitosis. She says, "Most dentists don’t look beyond the oral cavity. There may very well be a systemic reason for bad breath. We not only will find the cause, but will have the answer of how to eradicate it in a simple painless manner."

Primary of course, you will need to start a routine for keeping your mouth clean and fresh. Regular check-ups will allow your dentist to watch out for any areas where plaque is caught between your teeth. Brush your teeth and gums twice a day. Don’t forget to brush your tongue as well. Use dental floss for cleaning between your teeth. Most mouthwashes only disguise bad breath for a short time. So if you find that you are using a mouthwash all the time, talk to your dentist. They may be able to recommend an effective antibacterial mouthwash or definitive treatment so you don’t need mouth rinses at all.

Also, try keeping a diary of all the foods you eat and list any medicines you are taking. Take this diary to your dentist who may be able to suggest ways to solve the problem.

There are lots of small signals that can show you have bad breath. Have you noticed people stepping away when you start to talk? Do people turn their cheek when you kiss them goodbye? If you think you might have halitosis, ask a very good friend to be absolutely honest with you on this concern. Or to make sure you have fresh breath, call your dentist for an evaluation.

Dr. Idelle Brand is the director of The Brand Wellness Center, an integrative dental practice in midtown Manhattan. She is a health educator and lecturer on Enlightened DentistryTM, a new paradigm of holistic dental care that encompasses healing of the body, mind and spirit. She can be contacted at 212 947-0073 or through her website www.TheBrandWellnessCenter.com  

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