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21 Jan 2005

Stains & Stinky Breath - How's Your Smile?

Bad breath and discolored teeth are definitely not your friend! You can lose weight, get dressed up, do your makeup and hair all fancy, but once you open your mouth to smile or talk with someone, and your teeth are yellow and breath smells rank – your entire effort to look your best will be lost. Learning what stains your teeth and causes bad breath will help you to maintain your beautiful smile and always look your best.

Stained Teeth
Teeth stains can be extremely embarrassing, and also very hard to avoid. Stains can develop from two different factors, either intrinsic or extrinsic:
Intrinsic factors are those things that you don’t have total control over, such as: being administered tetracycline, an antibiotic that stains teeth either a mild yellow-orange color, or bluish gray in more extreme cases; or fluorosis, a condition which develops from a high fluoride concentration in drinking water, causing yellow discoloration of the teeth.
Extrinsic factors on the other hand, encompass things that you do have control of, such as: discoloration that results from foods, such as red wine, tea and coffee, or tobacco; if the food is also either highly acidic or the temperature changes from hot to cold, pores in the enamel open and close, trapping particles under the surface; poor brushing techniques or lack of proper care; and bacteria and fungus build up on the surface of the teeth that causes yellow and green stains.
So, what are your options for getting rid of stains?
Brushing your teeth at least once a day, or even better, after every time you eat, can help remove plaque and tartar buildup, and also cleanse food particles away.
If you are a frequent coffee or tea drinker, drink through a straw, which bypasses the front of the teeth.
Never swish staining drinks around in your mouth, and consider brushing your teeth after drinking them.
If your teeth are already stained and you’re looking for a brighter smile, you can seek assistance through your dentist for bleaching, micro-abrasion or veneer treatments.
Whiten your own teeth! Check out this week’s ‘A Beautiful You’ article: Achieving Pearly White for more information on how to do it yourself.
Bad Breath
Also a very embarrassing condition, foul smelling breath is no way to make friends! Bad breath can come from eating pungent foods, such as garlic or onions, drinking alcohol or smoking, which is usually a temporary situation. Bacteria can also multiply in the mouth, causing the bad odors. Odor-causing bacteria can hide in cavities and between teeth and result often from dry mouth, bacteria collection on the tongue, or even from a bacteria-infested toothbrush. Here’s how you can avoid these problems:
Avoid strong-smelling foods & drinks – it’s the easiest way to get around bad breath! Also, avoid sweet and sticky foods that cling to teeth and chomp on raw veggies that scrape away buildup while you chew.
Brush your teeth regularly, especially after eating pungent foods. Brush, rinse and floss every day, and don’t neglect your tongue. You can either brush it with your toothbrush, or buy a tongue scraper (not as scary as it sounds). And, sanitize your toothbrush regularly with hydrogen peroxide. Buy a new toothbrush at least every 3 months.
Make sure your mouth isn’t dry. Dry mouth can be the result of crash dieting, which produces a lack of saliva as little or no food is eaten, breathing through the mouth, and even some medications. Drink water regularly, which is good for you in more ways than one.
Chew on sugar-free gum, breath mints or one of these to freshen your breath: anise or fennel seeds, cloves, or parsley.
Caution: bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be an indicator of a more serious, chronic condition, such as gum disease or chronic sinus infections. If using these tips doesn’t get rid of your bad breath for good, it’s time to talk to your dentist or doctor about decay or disease.