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For Immediate Release

Contact: Richard T. Koenig
Phone: 202-547-7613
Fax: 202-546-1482

Don't Get the Kiss of Bad Breath

Will your Valentine back away in disgust when you get close to whisper sweet nothings in her ear? Do friends avoid getting close in conversation? Does your Valentine turn the cheek to receive your kisses? If so, you may want to check your breath.

Bad breath or halitosis, as it is called by dentists, is quite common and could be an indicator of other more serious dental or health problems. In a 1995 survey by the American Dental Association (ADA), 92% of the dentists surveyed said they see patients with chronic bad breath. Fifty percent of these dentists reported seeing at least six or more patients a week with a breath odor problem. No wonder the drugstores and supermarket shelves are lined with hundreds of remedies, including breath sprays, mints, mouthwashes, toothpaste, natural chlorophyll capsules, chewing gums and a host of other products all aimed at Acuring" bad breath. But do these products really work?

Breath malodor is frequently caused by bacterial deposits in the mouth," explains Dr. Sally Cram of the D.C. Dental Society Public Relations Committee. If you are not brushing, flossing and having your teeth cleaned on a regular basis, bacteria accumulate under the gums. As they proliferate and break down the sugars and sulfur contained in the amino acids in your saliva, they change the pH in your mouth and produce volatile sulfur compounds which cause the bad odor. If this is left undiagnosed and untreated, bacteria can eventually cause the gums to recede, deep pockets to form around the teeth and eventual bone or tooth loss. A bad odor can also be a sign of tooth decay or a brewing abscess.

Other health problems which could cause bad breath include renal failure, cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes and certain metabolic problems. Smoking, certain medications, mouth dryness and specific foods like onions and garlic also contribute to breath odor. Foods are digested, absorbed into the bloodstream and transferred to the lungs where the odors are expelled on your breath.

The best first line of defense against bad breath is proper oral hygiene," continues Dr. Cram. Eliminating the bacteria with proper brushing and flossing is the key."

Many of the products on the supermarket shelves only temporarily mask the odors but do not eliminate them. Frequent dental check-ups and cleanings along with using an antibacterial toothpaste such as Colgate Total or mouthrinse such as Listerine can be very helpful in fighting bad odors," recommends Dr. Cram. These products have been endorsed with the ADA Seal of Approval" for their ability to kill bacteria. Also brushing the tongue can also be helpful in removing the white bacterial deposits that accumulate there. If the odor persists despite these efforts, your dentist may recommend using a compound such as chlorine dioxide, which oxidizes sulfur compounds and breaks them down so they no longer smell. If these treatments fail to solve the problem, it may be time to see a physician to investigate other possible health problems which may be causing the odor.

For most people, a healthy diet, good oral hygiene on a daily basis and visiting the dentist twice per year for cleanings and exams are adequate to prevent bad breath. If you follow this advice, your Valentine's Day should be filled with hugs and kisses. For more information on fighting halitosis or a dental referral call the D.C. Dental Society at 202-547-7613.

For more information about oral health issues, visit www.dcdental.org and the American Dental Association Web site at www.ada.org.