Monday, June 16, 2014

Bad Breath and Sniffing out Lung Cancer

I have patients who are diligent about brushing and use mouthwash yet complain of bad breath.  There are several causes of bad breath but I usually address flossing habits first.  Flossing gets in between the teeth where the toothbrush can't reach.  Plaque, which is made of germs, live and grow all over the mouth.  Not flossing is like taking a shower and washing your face but not washing your hair or your ears - you're not doing the whole job.  Plaque stinks and unfortunately there is no other way to effectively get the plaque out from between the teeth.  Even new electronic devices, which are like mini water-picks, still recommend flossing in their instructions.  There simply is no substitute.  When investigating reasons for bad breath, other things to look at are medications, tooth alignment, mouth breathing and other health considerations.  Some medications can cause dry mouth, a common side effect of certain meds, which can lead to bad breath.  Supplements like fish oil or garlic, foods like onions or other odiferous foods can also cause it.  Tooth alignment can cause the mouth not to fully close, leading to drying of the mouth tissues and again, bad breath.  Mouth breathing at night or snoring, sometimes a sign of a serious health issue like sleep apnea, can also cause this problem as can life style habits, like smoking and drinking.  Bad breath certainly can be troublesome so it is best to discuss the issue frankly with your medical or dental professional especially since chronic bad breath may indicate underlying health problems.  It was also reported recently that the breath in general may even reveal other important information about a person's health.  At a conference of the American Society for Clinical Oncology new research revealed some amazing results.  Researchers reported that they have developed a machine using nanotechnology that can "smell" the breath of patients with lung cancer and other lung ailments.  Simply by breathing into a tube subtle changes in the body chemistry of the person are detected.  While this technology is still being tested the initial results seem promising.  (Please see the original article at ) Perhaps someday your doctor, dentist, or dental hygienist will be able to administer a simple breath test that can save your life or the life of your loved one.  That sure smells sweet.
This information is not intended to treat or diagnose any dental or medical problem or illness.  Please visit your medical or dental health professional if you need medical or dental treatment!

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